Waiting More Than 30 Minutes to Vote Is Unacceptable, Obama's Elections Commission Concludes

Susan Jones | January 23, 2014 | 7:58am EST
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Voters waited hours to cast their early vote at the Summit County Board of Elections on Monday, Nov. 5, 2012, in Akron, Ohio. (AP Photo/Akron Beacon Journal, Paul Tople)

(CNSNews.com) - "No citizen should have to wait more than 30 minutes to vote."  

That's one of the dozens of recommendations and "best practices" issued Wednesday by the President Obama's Commission on Election Administration.

"Our mission in this report was to improve the voter experience," commission co-chair Benjamin Ginsburg told MSNBC on Wednesday night. "I clearly reject the notion that somehow Republicans don't want people to vote."

Ginsburg served as a top attorney for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, and his fellow co-chair, Robert Bauer, served in a similar capacity for Obama's re-election campaign. President Obama announced their appointment in last year's State of the Union Address.

The commission found that long wait times at polling places result from a combination of mismanagement, limited or misallocated resources, and long ballots.

"The image of voters waiting for six or more hours to vote on Election Day 2012, as in the two previous Presidential contests, spurred the call for reform that led to creation of this Commission," the report noted.

"Research suggests that, although a limited number of jurisdictions experienced long wait times, over five million voters in 2012 experienced wait times
exceeding one hour and an additional five million waited between a half hour and an hour.

The commission found no single cause for long lines and said there is no single solution. "But the problem is solvable," it said.

To better manage "voter flow," the commission said:

-- States should consider establishing voting centers in convenient locations "to achieve economies of scale in polling place management."

-- Polling places should consider employing "line walkers" to identify potential problems among voters, such as invalid voter registrations, before they reach the check-in desk.

-- Voters should be given better information on line length before they go to the polling place, such as through an Internet feed from individual polling places.

-- Sample ballots should be made available by the beginning of early voting, or three weeks before election day.

-- And if state law allows it, "jurisdictions should reduce the length and complexity of the ballot in Presidential election years."

Other recommendations:

-- States should adopt online voter registration;

-- States should expand opportunities to vote before Election Day;

-- States should survey and audit polling places to determine their accessibility;

-- Jurisdictions should provide bilingual poll workers to any polling place with a significant number of voters who do not speak English.

-- Jurisdictions should recruit public and private sector employees, as well as high school and college students,  to become poll workers.

-- States should implement programs that recognize employers for supporting their employees who wish to work on Election Day

Appearing with Ginsburg on MSNBC, Bauer said many of the recommendations and suggestions require funding: "We however, are going to help elections administrators make the case for those funds," he said.

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