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New Study: Seven Early Voting Ideas to Improve Outdated Election Process

As voters head to the polls next week and election officials review voting protocols, the Brennan Center released a new report detailing the benefits of early voting programs and offering recommendations to improve our outdated elections.

October 31, 2013

Early In Person Voting Reduces Stress on the Election System and Provides Greater Access to Voting, Report Finds

For Immediate Release: October 31, 2013

Contact: Erik Opsal, 646–292–8356,

New York, NY – As voters across the country head to the polls next week and election officials review their voting protocols, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law today released a new report detailing the benefits of early voting programs and offering recommendations to substantially improve our outdated election process.

Based on extensive interviews with election officials and an analysis of state early voting laws, Early Voting: What Works proposes seven early voting recommendations that would improve the process for both voters and election officials, and provide more opportunities for citizens to cast a ballot.

“Given the increasing demands on many Americans’ schedules, early in person voting adds important flexibility and convenience to modernize the voting process, while keeping elections safe and secure,” said the Brennan Center’s Diana Kasdan, author of the report. “It reduces the administrative burdens of the Election Day rush and helps bring our antiquated voting system into the 21st century.”

Election officials also strongly support early voting. “Early voters are happy voters, and Election Day voters are grumpy voters,” said Larry Lomax, who served as the registrar of voters in Clark County, Nevada, for more than 15 years and is now a member of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration.

In contrast to a string of new state laws designed to restrict voting, at least 20 states considered proposals to start or expand early voting this year. These efforts are expected to continue in the next legislative session, with opportunities anticipated in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York, among other states.

The five primary benefits from effective early voting programs identified in the report include:

  • Reduced stress on the voting system on Election Day;
  • Shorter lines on Election Day;
  • Improved poll worker performance;
  • Early identification and correction of registration errors and voting system glitches; and
  • Greater access to voting and increased voter satisfaction.

Today, early voting laws vary substantially state-to-state and even across local jurisdictions within states. Although a number of states have already recognized these benefits and are adopting or expanding their early voting programs, voters in many states are still required to rearrange their schedules and wait in line on Election Day to participate in the political process.

Based on extensive research, the report recommends that all states and local jurisdictions implement the following early voting policies to expand the benefits of early voting nationwide:

  • Begin early in person voting two weeks before Election Day;
  • Provide weekend voting, including during the weekend before Election Day;
  • Set minimum daily hours for early voting and provide extended hours outside standard business hours;
  • Allow use of both private and public facilities;
  • Distribute early voting places fairly and equitably;
  • Update poll books daily; and
  • Educate the electorate about early voting.