The Presidential Commission on Election Administration met in Philadelphia yesterday to hear testimony given by experts from up and down the east coast and beyond on how to improve voting in America. The commission was created by President Obama this year to “promote the efficient administration of elections” in response to long lines and other glitches that have threatened the integrity of voting days in years past. The commission solicited input from election officials and academics on how to overcome technical and logistical obstacles that impede voting. Among the topics addressed were analytical methods to better distribute polling resources, the use of electronic signature databases for more streamlined registration, language access issues particularly for Asian and Latino voters, access for people with disabilities and emergency preparedness to salvage elections that are disrupted by major disasters such as Hurricane Sandy.
Left out of the official agenda was the elephant in the room: political obstacles to voting in the form of various suppression laws that a number of states have enacted in the past few years with the intention of keeping poor, elderly and minority people away from the ballot box.
While addressing the wave of voter suppression is not specifically listed on the commission’s mission in its executive order, numerous officials, activists and citizens did speak out against the discriminatory policies during the public comment period.
The meeting in Philadelphia yesterday followed similar events in Washington D.C., Colorado and Florida, with one remaining in Ohio before the group makes its recommendations to the president by the end of the year.