Skip Navigation
Expert Brief

Bipartisan Presidential Commission Endorses Modernizing Voter Registration

The Presidential Commission on Election Administration was appointed by Obama in 2013 to assess how to “improve the voting experience in America.” The Commission released its report and recommendations on January 22, 2014.

Published: December 1, 2014

Images of voters stand­ing in hours-long lines at the polls in the Novem­ber 2012 elec­tion gener­ated much atten­tion from the media, the public, and from the pres­id­ent. In early 2013, Pres­id­ent Barack Obama convened a 10-member bipar­tisan Pres­id­en­tial Commis­sion on Elec­tion Admin­is­tra­tion to study and recom­mend ways to shorten lines at polling places, promote the effi­cient conduct of elec­tions, and provide better access to the polls for all voters.

The Commis­sion held hear­ings during which it received extens­ive about the need for elec­tion modern­iz­a­tion and reform. Among other recom­mend­a­tions, the Bren­nan Center emphas­ized that prob­lems with the voter rolls contrib­ute to long lines and that modern­iz­ing regis­tra­tion is key to effi­cient elec­tion admin­is­tra­tion.

The Commis­sion concluded its efforts by issu­ing its report and recom­mend­a­tions on Janu­ary 22, 2014, conclud­ing that no voter should wait more than 30 minutes to vote. The Commis­sion recom­men­ded that juris­dic­tions modern­ize regis­tra­tion by giving citizens the choice to be elec­tron­ic­ally registered to vote at the same time as they do busi­ness with a govern­ment office and by adopt­ing online regis­tra­tion. The Commis­sion’s delib­er­at­ive, bipar­tisan endorse­ment confirms that fixing our outdated voter regis­tra­tion system is essen­tial to fixing long lines and bring­ing our system of running elec­tions into the 21st century.

Pres­id­en­tial Commis­sion on Elec­tion Admin­is­tra­tion Recom­mends Modern­iz­ing Regis­tra­tion

Prob­lems encountered with elec­tion admin­is­tra­tion over­lap and inter­sect, and improved manage­ment at one stage in the process will yield bene­fits at later stages. Improv­ing the accur­acy of regis­tra­tion rolls, for example, can expand access, reduce admin­is­trat­ive costs, prevent fraud and irreg­u­lar­ity, and reduce polling place conges­tion lead­ing to long lines.

Below are links to the Bren­nan Center’s testi­mony before the Commis­sion, the Commis­sion’s report, relev­ant news accounts, and other resources.

More Resources: