A year after President Obama’s pledge to address voting problems, a commission he established recommends expanding early voting and online voter registration to improve efficiency at polls nationwide. The 2012 election was characterized by stories of voters waiting for hours to cast ballots at some polls in battleground states. The commission’s unanimous conclusion is that “problems that hinder the efficient administration of elections are both identifiable and solvable,” and that no voter should have to wait more than 30 minutes to cast a ballot. The commission also recommended jurisdictions form advisory groups to address the needs of disabled or voters with limited English proficiency; address the “impending crisis in voting technology,” as no federal dollars are set aside to update 10-year-old voting machines; and improve the recruitment and training of poll workers.
Obama established the commission in March through an executive order, making good on a promise in his State of the Union address to improve the access to voting and efficiency at the polls. During his speech, he highlighted 102-year-old Desiline Victor of North Miami, who waited for hours to vote at her polling place. Florida, which experienced the longest-average wait time, according to the commission, had reduced its number of early-voting days from 14 to eight.
“When any American—no matter where they live or what their party—are denied that right because they can’t wait for five or six or seven hours just to cast their ballot, we are betraying our ideals,” Obama said in his 2013 address.