Presidential Commission Urges Voting Innovations

A highly-anticipated report from the bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration, released today, recommends the development and expansion of tactics that have been shown to increase access to voting. Chief among them? Online voter registration, a mainstay of HeadCount's registration efforts. The report cites the Rock the Vote-developed online registration tool HeadCount uses as a step in the right direction, while urging the expansion of fully-online registration, currently on the books in only 19 states.

The report also encourages the expansion of early voting and access to polls, with increased use of schools as polling places, and more polling places in each jurisdiction. These may seem like common-sense reforms, but with local elections administration procedures varying greatly from county to county, an overarching set of guidelines has yet to emerge. The recommendations in the report are non-binding, but President Obama has said that he will “publicize” the report and “reach out to stakeholders all across the country to make sure that we can implement this.”

The Commission was founded after long lines, ill-prepared polling place workers, inadequate machinery, and other issues plagued voters on Election Day 2012. That evening, President Obama, citing the long lines, said "We have to fix that." If adopted, elections administration reforms, along with strengthened voter rights protections, could make voting — and greater political representation — a reality for more Americans.