If a presidential commission has its way, the traditional Election Day is dead. The “traditional election day model 12 hours from x in morning to x at night is not feasible,” Bob Bauer, one of two co-chairs of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration, said in a panel at George Washington University School of Law on Wednesday, just hours after presenting the commission’s report to President Obama. The commission–popularly known as the Bauer-Ginsberg Commission after its two chairs, Bauer, a top Democratic lawyer, and Ben Ginsberg, the leading Republican election litigator—delivered its recommendations unanimously in a report commissioned in the aftermath of numerous reports of long lines and delays during the 2012 election. The commission dodged issues normally associated with partisan battles, such as voter ID and the Voting Rights Act. Instead it focused on the nuts and bolts of how to get voters in and out of their polling places quickly and efficiently, setting a standard of a half-hour as the longest anyone should wait to vote.
While the report did urge all states to adopt early voting–an issue which has been a partisan flashpoint in recent years–it made no recommendation as to how this should be done, save that it should. This avoided a debate over how early voting should be conducted, which has become deeply politicized. Republicans push for mail-in absentee ballots, a method they believe gives the GOP an advantage, while Democrats advocate in person early voting, which they believe favors them.
A technocratic tone defines the entire report, which uses the phrase “industrial engineering” twice as often as “Voting Rights Act”–one of the ten commission members is the Disney executive in charge of making sure tourists don’t spend too long waiting to get on Space Mountain. It also pushes online voter registration, simply because it is far cheaper and far more efficient than the traditional method of voters filling out paper forms from which clerks then manually enter data.