Project Wonderful

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Presidential Commission on Election Administration Talks About the REAL Problems With Election Technology

The findings are so important and affirming that I am just going to let Nate Persily, Research Director for the Commission, speak for himself.

The principal recommendations of the commission are:

1) modernization of the registration process through expansion of online voter registration and state collaboration in improving the accuracy of voter lists
2)improving access through expansion of pre-Election Day voting, and selection of suitable, well-equipped polling place facilities, such as schools
3) endorsement of tools to assure efficient management of polling places, hosted at the Caltech-MIT Voting Technology Project and available through the commission’s Web site;
4)reforms of the standard-setting and certification process for new voting technology to address soon-to-be antiquated voting machines and to encourage innovation and the adoption of widely available off-the-shelf technologies.

The issue of long polling place lines is an illustrative example. Media reports on long lines focus on battleground states, and usually the most populous counties within those states. National surveys, such as those conducted by Charles Stewart, have identified “problem states” where respondents report long wait times. What we need, however, are nationwide wait time data at the polling place level. As anyone who has visited Disney World with a child can attest, calculating wait times does not involve 21st century technology. But until we have every polling place in America using their stop watches for similar purposes, we will not have a clear picture of the location of the line problem and its multifarious causes.

The same can be said for any number of issues, such as the failure to count provisional, absentee and military ballots, accessibility of polling places, and perhaps the easiest and most important, the performance of voting technology. The lack of a nationwide data infrastructure hinders the kind of institutionalized learning and feedback loops that will allow our system of election administration to learn from itself. If the report of the Presidential Commission can push election officials to take even this minor, clearly nonpartisan step, it will have made a substantial, long lasting contribution to improving the voting experience.

Unrelatedly, I have been watching Scandal and House of Cards this weekend as soooo many people begged me to. I'm not gonna say they're not addictive, but we're got enough voting drama right here in real life.

Unrelatedly, I have started watching House of Cards and Scandal, so

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