Presidential Commission 2014
THE PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON ELECTION ADMINISTRATION
We are pleased to submit this Report and Recommendation called for in your Executive Order 13639, which established this Commission on Election Administration and defined its mission.
Our examination spanned six months of public hearings and included consultations with state and local election officials, academic experts, and organizations and associations involved in one form or another with voting and election administration. In connection with testimony provided to the Commission, the Caltech-MIT Voting Technology Project also conducted a comprehensive survey of the views of thousands of local election officials around the country. As a result, the Commission presents its unanimous recommendations, together with an array of best practices in election administration, which will significantly improve the American voter’s experience and promote confidence in the administration of U.S. elections.
(NOTE: The Commission was bipartisan and was chaired by Robert F. Bauer and Benjamin L. Ginsberg)
The United States runs its elections unlike any other country in the world. Responsibility for elections is entrusted to local officials in approximately 8,000 different jurisdictions. In turn, they are subject to general oversight by officials most often chosen through a partisan appointment or election process. The point of contact for voters in the polling place is usually a temporary employee who has volunteered for one-day duty and has received only a few hours of training. These defining features of our electoral system, combined with the fact that Americans vote more frequently on more issues and offices than citizens anywhere else, present unique challenges for the effective administration of elections that voters throughout the country expect and deserve.
The key recommendations of the Commission are:
- Online Registration: The steady trend toward online voter registration should continue as every state should allow eligible citizens to register to vote and to update their registrations via the internet.
- Interstate Exchange of Voter Lists: States should update and check their voter registration lists against each other, as is done with the “IVRC” and “ERIC” projects, to ensure that voters are correctly registered at one location, that registration lists are more accurate and not a source of polling place congestion, and that these more accurate lists can assist in identifying individuals who are eligible to vote, but are not registered.
Access to the polls:
- Expansion of voting Before Election Day: In order to limit congestion on Election Day and to respond to the demand for greater opportunities to vote beyond the traditional Election Day polling place, states that have not already done so should expand alternative ways of voting, such as mail balloting and in-person early voting.
- Schools as Polling Places: States should encourage the use of schools as polling places. Because they often provide the best facilities to meet voters’ needs, roughly one-third of voters currently vote in schools. To address security concerns, Election Day should be scheduled as an in-service day for students and teachers.
Polling Place Management:
- Adoption of Resource Allocations Tools: Local officials should employ a resource allocation calculator, akin to the ones presented at www.supportthevoter.gov, in order to optimize the number of voting machines and staff at polling places, thereby reducing the potential for long lines.
- Addressing the Impending Crisis in Voting Technology: By the end of the decade, a large share of the nation’s voting machines, bought 10 years ago with HAVA funds, will reach the end of their natural life and require replacement. To address this impending challenge and to usher in the next generation of voting machines, the standards and certification process for new voting technology must be reformed so as to encourage innovation and to facilitate the adoption of widely available, off-the-shelf technologies and “software-only” solutions.
The entire Report is available at www.supportthevoter.gov.