Improving Elections in the United States: Voices from the Field

Tova Wang, Maria Peralta | September 22, 2015

New Report Released by National Commission on Voting Rights: More Work Needed to Improve Registration and Voting in the U.S.

Based on the testimony provided by hundreds of witnesses at 25 state and regional National Commission on Voting Rights hearings convened in 2013 and 2014, this national report highlights the voices of people impacted by how elections are run in their communities—the successes as well as the challenges. The report stresses the need for state and local election administrators to increase efforts to improve the voter experience by removing obstacles to both registering and casting a ballot.

Some key findings from the report:

  • Voter Registration Needs to Be Easier: Expansive registration programs, such as online and same day voter registration, encourage participation in the electoral process while non-compliance with federal voter registration laws and rollbacks of state laws that make it easier to register, hurts voters.
  • Long Lines at the Polls Still a Possibility in 2016: Elections improve when election administrators plan early, develop creative strategies and use technology wisely to streamline the voting process for voters. Yet, many voters still face challenges on Election Day due to a variety of factors, including  insufficient poll worker training or understaffing at polling locations; excessively restrictive voter ID laws and/or cuts to laws that encourage participation; and shrinking budgets that restrict counties from upgrading old and malfunctioning voting equipment.
  • Voters with Disabilities, Students and People with Felony Convictions Face Voting Barriers: Voters with disabilities often arrive at polling locations to find that accessible voting equipment is not functioning properly or that poll workers do not know how to operate the machines.  Out-of-state college students have been denied regular ballots because their college addresses do not match their driver’s licenses.  Individuals convicted of a felony continue to face a maze of confusing rules and regulations around the restoration of their voting rights.

Download the Full Report

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