Geri P. Mannion: Smart New Ways to Improve Elections

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The non-partisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration was established by Executive Order on March 28, 2013 to identify best practices in election administration and to make recommendations on improving the voting experience. Last week the Commission presented President Obama with its report, based on problems that have plagued voting in the past and the issues that will confront the American voter in the future. The report includes a series of recommendations designed to help local and state elections officials improve all voters’ experience in casting their ballots.

Some of these strategies come from the work of The Caltech-MIT Voting Technology Project (a former Carnegie Corporation grantee), which conducted a comprehensive survey of the views of thousands of local election officials around the country and reported on what has been accomplished to improve election systems since the 2000 elections and what still needs to be done.

 Long lines at the polls are a big problem identified in the report—and one the Commission found can be solved through a combination of planning and efficient allocation of resources.  The Report recommends a series of innovative online tools for elections officials, which are available at the Commission’s website www.supportthevoter.gov and will be permanently hosted on the site of the Caltech-MIT Voting Technology Project. This Election Toolkit aims to help administrators deal with the many challenges of planning for and running elections. Also included are tools to assist with online voter registration provided by Rock the Vote, another Corporation grantee through the State Infrastructure Fund, housed at Public Interest Projects.