Editorials: Modernize Massachusetts Elections | Pam Wilmot/The Boston Globe

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.

Massachusetts: Early voting bill could reach House floor | Hanover Mariner

The House could take up a series of election law reforms this week before the close-out of formal sessions for the year. An aide to Speaker Robert DeLeo said the House is tentatively planning to take up a bill (H 3647) drafted by the Election Laws Committee, which calls for an “online portal” where citizens can register to vote, and allows early voting from 11 business days to two business days before a presidential primary or presidential election. Activists decrying long lines at polling stations and other hindrances to voting have called for reforms to ease access to ballots. A member of the committee staff said the bill was designed to address long lines, and voters would be able to cast ballots early for all races during a presidential year during the presidential primary or general election. Senate President Therese Murray has backed legislation (S 12) to amend the state constitution, allowing for state laws providing for early voting. Lawmakers meeting in a brief Constitutional Convention in October gave initial approval to the constitutional amendment.

California: Humboldt County embraces new system for election transparency | California Forward

Want to see every ballot cast in the last election with your own two eyes? The Humboldt County Registrar makes that possible in her home near the Oregon border. Humboldt Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich responded to controversy and an outcry from residents by creating a system for anyone to request a scanned version of the vote through the Humboldt County Elections Transparency Project. In 2008, to the dismay of Humboldt County voters, 197 votes (or 0.3 percent of the total vote) disappeared due to a software malfunction. Apparently, it wasn’t the first time for this software to simply delete ballots and Crnich was rightly approached by constituents who had grave concerns regarding the voting system soon after the election results. The software is made by Diebold, a name which may conjure up memories of hanging chads in Florida in 2000 and other issues in 2004. Crnich and that same group of constituents did an audit after connecting the dots on Diebold’s spotty history and found the missing ballots. Locals thought the software was too closed off from the public and wanted a better auditing process. After pinpointing the problem, the Secretary of State’s office swiftly initiated an investigation and decertified the faulty software.