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Presidents Commission Releases Recommendations for Election Reform

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After six months of hearings and analysis, the Presidential Commission on Election Administration released its report and recommendations last week on how to more efficiently conduct federal elections and improve the experience of voters. 

“The bipartisan members of the commission deserve tremendous credit for producing a comprehensive and data-driven report,” says David Becker, director of The Pew Charitable Trusts’ election initiatives. “The report effectively highlights innovations in the states that have led to more efficient, more cost-effective elections, such as online voter registration and ways to encourage more accurate voter lists.” 

Here are the commission’s key recommendations:

  • States are encouraged to upgrade their voter registration systems through data-sharing programs. The commission specifically recommends that states join the Electronic Registration Information System, developed by Pew and operated independently by a board made up of state members.
  • States should develop online voter registration systems so that eligible citizens can register and update their voter registrations in the most convenient and accessible way—online.
  • States should integrate the voter data acquired by their Department of Motor Vehicles with the voter registration rolls, preferably through an automated electronic process. For more on this, see our 2012 report “Inaccurate, Costly, and Inefficient.”
  • Local jurisdictions should collect complete and accurate data on every interaction with a potential registrant or voter in order to establish comprehensive measures of election administration performance. Our report “Elections Performance Index,” explains how this will improve overall state election performance.  
  • States should conduct postelection audits of voting equipment to ensure that the machines are operating properly and vote totals match the votes cast.  
  • No voter should wait in line at the polling place for more than 30 minutes. The commission suggested several online tools to help election administrators allocate their resources to minimize lines. The commission also recommended best practices for improving the flow of voters through a polling place, with an emphasis on efficiency and customer service.  
  • The accuracy and integrity of the voter check-in process could be greatly improved if states used electronic pollbooks.  
  • There should be an emphasis on improving professionalism in the field of election administration through education and nonpartisan staffing.

The commission was established by executive order after the 2012 presidential election brought renewed attention to problems in election administration. The bipartisan commission was chaired by Robert Bauer, former White House counsel to President Barack Obama and general counsel to the Democratic National Committee; and Benjamin Ginsberg, former counsel to the Bush-Cheney and the Romney presidential campaigns. Members of the commission were chosen for their distinguished performance in election administration, expertise in public-sector management, or experience in private-sector business administration and customer service.

To read more coverage of the commission’s report, see the links below:

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