Presidential Commission addresses elections


The Commission strives to make voting easier and more efficient


pcea2

1974 College graduate Benjamin Ginsberg (left) and Robert Bauer (center) visited Philadelphia in Fall 2013 as part of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration.

Photo by Harry Cooperman


The Presidential Commission on Election Administration, co-chaired by 1974 College graduate Benjamin Ginsberg, released a report on Wednesday about how to increase the efficiency of elections across the country.

The commission was convened by President Barack Obama in March and tasked with finding ways of making the voting process easier, more streamlined and more accessible to Americans across the country.

Related: Penn alum to lead national election commission

The report includes policy recommendations designed to help modernize the voter registration process, improve access to the polls on Election Day and standardize election practices in more than 8,000 jurisdictions across the country.

It cites the large number of districts and high degree of local control in elections, oversight by partisan officials and the reliance of most polling places on volunteers with minimal formal training as key weaknesses of the American system of election management.

In order to combat these deficiencies and address other weaknesses in the system, the report recommends that the federal government help finance the deployment of a new generation of voting machines. It also encourages states to share voting registries — to ensure that voters are not registered in more than one state — and take steps to increase implementation of online voter registration.

At the local level, the commission urges more and better training for Election Day volunteers, since they are the primary points of contact for most voters.

Pennsylvania is part of a 29-state registry-sharing program and is cited in the report as an example of a state that does a good job training its volunteers. However, the Commonwealth is listed among states that rely heavily on in-person voter registration, contrary to the suggestions given by the report.

The commission’s report also recommends increased access to early voting and voting by mail in order to decrease congestion at the polls on Election Day. Currently, Pennsylvania only allows residents to vote early if they will not be in the state on Election Day.

Related: Polling locations could sway votes, study finds.

The bipartisan commission, co-chaired by Ginsberg, a former Daily Pennsylvanian Editor-in-Chief who served as national counsel for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, and Robert Bauer, Obama’s former White House Counsel, included local and state election experts from across the country.

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