League of Women Voters Urges Presidential Commission on Election Administration to Support Five-Point Agenda
States Must Develop Secure Online Voter Registration that Serves All Eligible Voters
Washington, DC – In a statement submitted before the final public hearing of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration (PCEA), the League of Women Voters of the United States urged the commission to improve the polling place experience so that all eligible citizens can become active participants in our electoral process.
“Major improvements in election administration would let voters know that they are the central actors in our nation’s democratic system, just as customers are central to any business enterprise,” Elisabeth MacNamara, national League President stated.
“Accurate, up-to-date voter registration lists are key to efficient management of the polls and to ensuring that voters are not faced with confusion, long waiting times and excessive numbers of provisional ballots,” MacNamara said.
Chief among the League’s recommendations to the PCEA was a call for all states to develop and implement secure online voter registration systems that serve all voters. “While the League is encouraged that 15 states have begun to upgrade their voter registration systems, we must do all we can to be sure that these programs are designed for all eligible citizens,” MacNamara said.
“Unfortunately, many states currently restrict online voter registration to those who have a driver's license, which means that millions of eligible voters, particularly younger citizens who already are disproportionately unregistered, cannot register or update their registrations online. Not only does this limitation substantially reduce the effectiveness of online registration, it also raises concerns about the discriminatory effect.” (LWVUS PCEA statement)
The League outlined four additional key areas that election officials could implement to significantly improve the polling place experience for voters including:
- permanent and portable statewide voter registration,
- expanded early voting,
- improved polling place management, and
- electronic streamlining.
The PCEA is co-chaired by attorneys Robert Bauer and Ben Ginsberg. When President Obama gave his acceptance speech on election night 2012, he pointed to some of the challenges that voters faced when casting their ballots earlier that day, saying "we have to fix that." The President later appointed this commission to examine the problems and propose solutions, particularly those that could be adopted at the state and local levels. The commission is to report this year on its recommendations.
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