[nfbmi-talk] and on it goes

joe harcz Comcast joeharcz at comcast.net
Sat Jan 25 15:22:28 UTC 2014

Panel recommends fixes for long lines at ballot box | Lansing State Journal | lansingstatejournal.com

Written by


Ledyard King


Gannett Washington Bureau


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Americans waited an average of about 13 minutes to vote on Election Day in 2012. These states had the longest average wait times:

Florida -- 39 minutes

Maryland -- 36 minutes

South Carolina -- 25 minutes

Virginia -- 25 minutes

Michigan -- 19 minutes


WASHINGTON — States could make life easier for voters by adopting online registration, expanding early voting and simplifying ballots, a presidentially

appointed panel said.


In a report issued earlier this week , the Presidential Commission on Election Administration said no citizen should have to wait more than 30 minutes to

vote and many of the conditions that led to hours-long lines on Election Day 2012 are "identifiable and solvable."


President Barack Obama created the bipartisan panel last year following reports that as many as 700,000 Americans opted not to vote because of wait times

that sometimes exceeded six hours.


In Florida alone, where the average wait time was 39 minutes -- longest in the nation -- an estimated 200,000 voters walked away or didn't bother to show

up, according to one analysis. Michigan voters waited an average of 19 minutes.


The 10-member panel of elections officials, attorneys and business leaders was charged with recommending ways to improve election procedures without proposing

new laws.


Panel members looked at reducing wait times through the registration process, the choice and design of polling sites, and access for voters who are either

disabled, have limited English proficiency or serve in the military.


The panel recommended:


• States adopt online voter registration to make signup easier.


• States share data with each other and synchronize voter lists to help create an accurate database of eligible voters.


• Polling places be located close to voters and offer sufficient space, parking, infrastructure and accessibility for voters with disabilities.


• Elections officials give voters better information on wait times -- perhaps by providing an Internet feed from individual polling places -- before voters

leave home.


• States integrate voter data acquired through motor vehicle departments with statewide voter registration lists.


• Jurisdictions make bilingual poll workers available at polling places where significant numbers of voters don't speak English.

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• States adopt safeguards for mail balloting, including online tracking of absentee ballots so voters can verify the status of their ballot.


"These recommendation and best practices... are really aimed at state and local officials," said commission co-chairman Ben Ginsberg, the top lawyer for

the presidential campaigns of Republicans George W. Bush and Mitt Romney. "We think we've got a series of practical solutions to the problems that plague

people when they go in the voting booth."


The panel held six public hearings last year, soliciting input from elections officials, voting rights groups and other experts.


"This commission took its guidance from the voters: how they live, what they expect, and how those expectations are evolving," said co-chairman Bob Bauer,

who served as White House counsel to Obama. "And if we use that as our guideline, then there are some very practical, intelligent things we can do to improve

the American voting experience."


Michael Waldman, president of the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, urged elections officials to enact the panel's recommendations.


"The commission's report marks a significant advance in the way we think about voting," he said. "(It) makes clear that there are achievable, bipartisan

reforms that can be implemented now to transform voting in America. Most importantly, it recognizes that we can't fix long lines until we first fix our

outdated voter registration system."







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