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Report: Expand early voting and get wait times down to 30 minutes

Jan. 22, 2014 at 4:14 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Early voting should be expanded, a bipartisan U.S. presidential panel said Wednesday, concluding no one should wait more than 30 minutes to vote.

Reacting to the hours-long wait some voters experienced during the 2012 presidential election that, the Presidential Commission on Election Administration said it found "jurisdictions can solve the problem of long lines through a combination of planning ... and the efficient allocation of resources."

The panel offered several recommendations to help local and state elections officials improve all voters' experience, based on a six-month study.

The commission -- led by President Obama's top election attorney, Robert F. Bauer, and Benjamin L. Ginsberg, who was lead attorney on Republican challenger Mitt Romney's campaign -- also unanimously concluded that problems hindering "efficient administration of elections are both identifiable and solvable."

Before the panel presented its findings, President Obama said, "I think all of us recall that in the last election in 2012 we had reports around the country of tremendously long lines of people when they tried to vote and in some cases for hours they were stuck."

"I think all of us share the belief that regardless of party affiliation, our democracy demands that our citizens can participate in a smooth and effective way," Obama said.

The recommendations, Obama said, had the important goal that "no American should have to wait more than half an hour to vote ... and they should know, they should be confident, that their vote is being properly counted and is secure."

Obama said the commission's recommendations were not directed "simply to Congress or the federal government, but rather to the state and local jurisdictions who are largely responsible for our elections."

"Our aim was to transcend partisan divisions and view election administration as public administration that must heed the expressed interests and expectations of voters," Bauer and Ginsberg said in a joint statement.

Recognizing that about 8,000 jurisdictions administer elections primarily with volunteers who receive little training can make uniformity challenging, the report's other recommendations include:

-- Expanding online voter registration.

-- Having all states update and exchange voter registration lists to create the most accurate lists possible to increase registration rates, reduce costs and protect against fraud.

-- Increase the use of schools as polling places.

-- Recognizing and addressing a looming crisis in voting technology as 10-year-old machines require replacement with no federal funding likely.

-- Reforming standards and the certification process to allow for innovation and adoption of widely available, less expensive off-the-shelf technologies and "software-only" solutions.

-- Improving opportunities for military and overseas voters to access ballots and other voting materials through states' websites.

-- Increasing and enhancing the training and recruitment of poll workers.

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