No one should have to wait more than half an hour to vote.
That was the key principle in the report of the bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration, which was delivered to the White House today. In order to achieve this, the commission led by Democrat Bob Bauer and Republican Ben Ginsberg, recommended a nationwide expansion of early voting---both by mail and in-person---as well as a number of other reforms.
The Bauer-Ginsberg Commission was established by President Obama in the aftermath of the 2012 election in an attempt to solve the problems with long waits and crowding that have plagued American elections in recent years. The recommendations of the commission were made on a bipartisan basis and almost entirely avoided the ongoing “voting wars” over voter ID and registration. Instead, the commission focused on the nuts and bolts of election administration.
In addition to the expansion of early voting, other recommendations in today’s report included implementing online voter registration, increased use of schools as polling places and having states try to minimize the length and complexity of their ballots in presidential election years.
In addition to these changes, the report also included warnings about the state of voting technology. A disproportionate number of voting machines, those bought with money earmarked for election reform in the aftermath of the 2000 election, are due for replacement in the next decade. The report warns that unless proactive steps are taken to update the ten-year-old legal standards for replacing these machines in the age of the iPads, this could lead to huge costs for local governments to buy inferior voting machines.
The Commission’s report will have no legal effect. Instead, its members will have to convince Congress and state legislatures to implement its recommendations.