A Report that Aims Small–Thank Goodness!

The Century Foundation (my former employer) recently issued a very nice report–Balancing Access and Integrity— that attempts to address several issues that have arisen in the post-HAVA election reform world. The report has several qualities that are to be admired.

  • First, does not take a hysterical tone toward the problems that have occurred in the last two presidential elections. Instead, the report is an attempt to examine clearly the world that HAVA created and see how to move forward.
  • Second, the report recognizes that HAVA has not even been fully implemented–many of its provisions do not go into effect until next year. In this spirit, the report makes recommendations that are small but practical and useful to election officals.
  • Third, the report focuses very clearly on a key issue–access–and examines how access can be improved without making elections more prone to fraud.

What does the report recommend? (You can skip reading the report and just read the recommendations by clicking here). Here are two smart ideas that are examples:

  • States need to provide clear rules for what missing or incorrect information will be a basis for disqualification and/or the need to correct or amend a registration form.
  • States should implement a system by which all voters receive a receipt with a tracking number, allowing the voter and other interested parties to check on registration status through the use of that number and a publicly available. (Note: This system would let states hold groups accountable when they do not return voter registration forms in a timely manner!!)

The report also has a recommendation that is exactly on-point with yesterday’s posting on ID requirements: States should not expand voter identification rules at this timefor example, by requiring all voters to show identification documentation at the pollsas there has been insufficient time for a thorough evaluation of relevant information and options relating to such rules.

For readers who want something explosive or revolutionary, this is not the report for you. But if you are looking for practical ideas for how your state can improve its election processes and procedures, it is definately worth a look. After all, the state legislating season opens in only 5 months; this report is a source of worthy legislative ideas!