The Presidential Commission on Election Administration recently released a report on ways to make American elections run more smoothly and to reduce long lines at the polls. The bipartisan commission, co-chaired by the head election attorneys from President Barack Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s campaigns, found than 5 million people had to wait longer than an hour to vote in 2012. Some voters waited for more than six hours! Even here in Massachusetts, thousands of urban voters waited in long lines of up to three hours. Others understandably could not wait that long and went home. Still others were turned away because of issues around inactive voting lists, registration glitches, and their inability to legally obtain an absentee ballot. Thankfully all of the Commission on Election Administration’s top legislative recommendations were recently passed by the Massachusetts Senate in a groundbreaking election modernization bill. These recommendations were online voter registration, early voting, permanent voter registration, and post-election audits of election equipment.
The Senate bill also included two other best practice reforms, Election Day Registration and pre-registration of 16 year-olds that engage more voters. The Massachusetts House also passed online voter registration and a more modest early voting proposal in 2013 and post-election audits and voter pre-registration in 2012.
If all of the Commission’s recommendations and Election Day registration and pre-registration are approved by the conference committee assigned to iron out differences between the House and Senate bills, Massachusetts will be at the forefront of expanding voting rights rather than lagging behind a majority of other states.
You’d think that Massachusetts would be a leader in adopting these proven strategies to make voting more convenient, efficient, and accessible to all, but we’re not — 19 other states allow voters who already have a signature on file at the Registry of Motor Vehicles to register online. Fourteen states have increased voter turnout among 18-24 year-olds with pre-registration, which allows young people to pre-register when they get their drivers licenses and then automatically makes the registration active when they reach their 18th birthday.
Full Article: Modernize our elections – Opinion – The Boston Globe.