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After a six-month review, the Presidential Commission on Election Administration on Wednesday delivered its 112-page report to the president and the public for making voting a smoother, easier process. While the report got strong reviews, the Washington Post's Scott Wilson noted that it avoided dealing with the "issue of race in assessing access to voting places and wait times for casting ballots." That is one of the key concerns of voter rights advocates, including the American Civil Liberties Union.

The recommendations include modernizing voter machinery, expanding online registration, increasing early voting opportunities and sharing voter registration data across state lines.

Rick Hasen of the Election Law Blog writes glowingly of the quality of the report, saying "the recommendations are sensible and doable, and (rarely in this politically sensitive area), the report generates much more light than heat." Hasen's entire analysis is, as usual, worth the read. An excerpt:

The commission ended with a set of recommendations and best practices which should be studied and seriously considered by all those in election administration. [...]
Kudos to the Commissioners and staff for accomplishing much more than I thought could be accomplished given the limited charge. Given the charge, this is a tremendous accomplishment. If these changes could be implemented it would positively affect the voting experience of millions of voters. Unfortunately, the problems identified by the Commission, and those sidestepped by the Commission, will require much more than this Commission’s good work to be solved. It remains to be seen if we can get beyond partisan recriminations and actually fix what remains a broken U.S. election system. Much depends upon the persuasive powers of Commission members, the President, and others.
But Jonathan Bernstein at Bloomberg writes:
I remain a pessimist about this. To the extent that states want to make it easy for everyone to vote and are willing to devote the resources to achieve that, it’s great that they’ll now have a path to do so (see Heather Gerken’s optimistic take for how this could work). But I just don’t see “make it easy for everyone to vote” as a goal that most, or even many, states share.
He nevertheless agrees that the commissioners themselves did a bang-up job given the limitations of their charge.

But while the commission was bipartisan, the fight to make it easier for citizens to vote is not. Otherwise, it would be a simple matter of everybody, whatever their partisan views, working hard to ensure that every eligible person is encouraged and enabled to cast a ballot, no matter who they are likely to vote for. That's obviously not what has been going on.

Below the fold is a condensed outline of the commission's recommendations:

• States should adopt online voter registration [...]

• Interstate exchanges of voter registration information should be expanded [...]

• States should seamlessly integrate voter data acquired through Departments of Motor Vehicles with their statewide voter registration lists [...]

• Schools should be used as polling places; to address any related security concerns, Election Day should be an in-service day [...]

• States should consider establishing vote centers to achieve economies of scale in polling place management while also facilitating voting at convenient locations [...]

• Jurisdictions should develop models and tools to assist them in effectively allocating resources across polling places [...]

• Jurisdictions should transition to electronic pollbooks [...]

• Jurisdictions should recruit public and private sector employees, as well as high school and college students, to become poll workers [...]

• States should institute poll worker training standards [...]

• Election authorities should establish advisory groups for voters with disabilities and for those with limited English proficiency [...]

• States and localities must adopt comprehensive management practices to assure accessible polling places [...]

• States should survey and audit polling places to determine their accessibility [...]

• Jurisdictions should provide bilingual poll workers to any polling place with a significant number of voters who do not speak English [...]

• Jurisdictions should test all election materials for plain language and usability [...]

• States should expand opportunities to vote before Election Day [...]

• States should provide ballots and registration materials to military and overseas voters via their websites [...]

• The standard-setting and certification process for voting machines must be reformed [...]

• Audits of voting equipment must be conducted after each election, as part of a comprehensive audit program, and data concerning machine performance must be publicly disclosed in a common data format [...]

• Local jurisdictions should gather and report voting-related transaction data for the purpose of improving the voter experience

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Wed Jan 22, 2014 at 12:34 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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