[Screenshot image via bipartisanpolicy]
Yesterday, the Bipartisan Policy Center released a new report, Logical Election Policy, developed in coordination with election officials and containing a wide range of recommendations for election administration across the United States. Mindy Moretti has more in electionlineWeekly:
Called Logical Election Policy, the report is a roadmap for legislators—particularly at the state level—to understand their policy options and highlight the upstream and downstream effects of policy reforms.
“For the task force, we assembled 21 key election officials from 17 states—including Ohio, Georgia, Michigan, Florida, Nevada, Virginia, and others—to analyze the current election ecosystem and to work together to develop innovative ways to improve the voting experience,” says Matthew Weil, Director of BPC’s Election Project and one of the report’s lead authors.
The recommendations include: ways to meet voter expectations for more modern, integrated, and secure voter rolls; updated and more efficient methods of casting ballots; and better ways to count votes that increase public confidence in the integrity of elections.
“American elections are complex,” Weil says. “They involve many federal and state laws administered by over 8,000 local administrators who have to be everything from logistics managers to cybersecurity experts. Getting registered, casting your ballot, and having confidence in the vote count is not as easy as it could be.”
Although the task force members included Democrats and Republicans across a wide political spectrum, they unanimously endorsed a package of reforms to improve U.S. elections that they believe are implementable on realistic timeframes and under tight budget deadlines.
“I think there’s a pretty remarkable thing about the process,” said Judd Choate, Colorado director of elections. “There are Democrats and Republicans [on this stage]. There are people with a lot of experience, there are people with less experience. There are people from more rural states, more urban states. States that sort of have that Eastern model which is based more in polling places, the Western model which is based more in vote at home. And we were able to come up with 30-plus recommendations that we could all agree to, every one of us in the room could buy into those recommendations and I think that is an amazing thing.”
The recommendations are broken into three sections: Voter registration, casting a ballot and counting the vote.
There are five recommendations under voter registration, including that all states should become a member of ERIC and that states should set voter registration deadlines to the fewest days necessary to prepare for the election in order to provide constituents a reasonable opportunity to register to vote.
Under the heading of casting a ballot, the Task Force has 10 recommendations including a number of recommendations related to vote-by-mail, early voting and accessibility. With regard to early voting, the Task Force recommends that voters should have the option of voting early and in-person for a period of at least seven days in advance of a federal election, that states should set a minimum standard for the number of early voting sites and most interestingly, that smaller, municipality-based election jurisdictions should be allowed to join together to offer shared, convenient early voting.
There are six recommendations under the counting the vote heading, all issues that have very much been in the news of late. Those recommendations include that election administrators should be permitted to process vote-by-mail ballots beginning at least seven days prior to Election Day but must be prohibited from pre-releasing results, that state election certification deadlines should be set no earlier than 14 days after a general election to provide time to complete pre-certification tasks and that states should allow sufficient time for voters to cure eligibility deficiencies in vote-by-mail ballots, even if this period extends beyond Election Day.
During an event releasing the recommendations, Chris Thomas, former Michigan director of elections and a fellow at the BPC’s Elections Projected noted how different these recommendations are from how they would have been not that long ago.
“This is a report by election officials that is voter centric,” Thomas said. “There was a time if you put that many elections officials together you would have had an elections officials view of the world. Election officials today are very voter centric which is where they need to be.”
BPC’s new report is a fascinating catalog of reforms and best practices that election officials themselves think are the way forward for voting in America. Kudos to Matt Weil and the entire BPC team on not only the report release and the event but the entire effort – it’s impressive and heartening that the community has so many great consensus ideas for continuing to improve elections across the nation. Stay tuned!