States should allow online voter registration and create more opportunities to cast ballots before election day, according to a report issued Wednesday by a bipartisan commission formed to address long lines and other troubles at the polls in 2012. The Presidential Commission on Election Administration made its recommendations in a 112-page report to President Obama. The commission — led by longtime Washington attorneys Robert F. Bauer, a Democrat, and Benjamin L. Ginsberg, a Republican — declared that no one should wait more than 30 minutes to vote and warned of an “impending crisis” as electronic voting machines age. Obama created the group last spring after lines, machine malfunctions and confusion left some voters waiting hours. In his inaugural address at the start of his second term, he called for a panel to find ways to improve the “efficient administration” of elections. The commission stayed true to that prescribed mandate, experts said, largely steering clear of the more contentious debates. The report does not wade deeply into issues involving voter fraud or suppression, voter identification laws or protection for minorities after the Supreme Court struck down part of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“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, counsel to Obama’s campaigns, and Ginsberg, counsel to Republican Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns, said in a statement.
The panel focused its six-month study on bringing efficiency to voting and devising pragmatic solutions for better “customer service” at the polls. The report is accompanied by online tools to help local officials learn how to predict turnout and allocate resources. Panel members heard from election officials on ballot design and poll worker training. They consulted Disney theme park officials on how to manage long lines.
The report makes “very sensible recommendations on issues for which there’s mostly common ground among Republicans and Democrats,” said Richard L. Hasen, an election expert and law professor at UC Irvine.