Bipartisan Election Commission Makes Recommendations So Obvious, It’s Painful

Friday, January 24, 2014
(photo: Paul B. Southerland, AP, Oklahoman)

A White House panel has announced a series of (obvious) recommendations to improve voting in the United States, while sidestepping some of the more controversial issues that have surfaced in recent years.


The Presidential Commission on Election Administration spent six months coming up with ideas for making it easier to cast ballots. The report (pdf) listed changes that included:


  • Expand online voter registration and early balloting
  • Increase the number of schools used as polling places
  • Locate polling places close to voters’ homes
  • Simplify voting for members of the military and other Americans living overseas via the Internet
  • Update electronic voting equipment
  • Share voter registration records across state lines to protect against fraud


Fraud has been a big concern among Republicans, who have pushed through voter ID laws in many states to guard against this problem (which Democrats say doesn’t exist). The new laws have produced warnings from advocates for minorities and seniors that voter disenfranchisement may increase as a result.


But the commission bypassed any suggestions related to voters having to show picture IDs at polling places.


One recommendation that may stir concern among Republicans called for adding bilingual poll workers to aid voters who don’t speak English. Many GOP politicians see any attempt to help Latino voters as a boost for Democratic candidates, since these Americans favored Obama by more than 40 percentage points over Mitt Romney in 2012.


Scott Wilson of The Washington Post called the recommendations “comprehensive, if largely unsurprising.”


President Barack Obama, who appointed the commission in March, supported the report’s findings and conclusions.


“One of the troubling aspects of the work that they did was hearing from local officials indicating that we could have even more problems in the future if we don’t act now,” Obama said.


The commission was co-chaired by the chief lawyers of the Obama and Romney presidential campaigns, Robert F. Bauer and Benjamin L. Ginsburg, respectively.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Bipartisan Election Commission Releases List of Suggested Fixes (by Scott Wilson, Washington Post)

The American Voting Experience: Report and Recommendations of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration (pdf)


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