April 14, 2014
The Presidential Commission on Election Administration recently released its report offering recommendations to improve the quality and fairness of elections in the United States. The Commission’s findings included calls for more effective use of information and communications technologies to protect election integrity.
The Commission was established in the wake of the highly publicized election administration difficulties that have plagued recent national elections. The goal of the Commission was to provide suggestions to improve the quality of election administration across the United States.
An important Commission recommendation offered support for broader use of online voter registration processes. The Commission urged all jurisdictions to embrace online voter registration. Online registration, in the view of the Commission, offers a highly cost effective and efficient method to expand voter participation by substantially increasing the voter pool.
The Commission also supported the continuing efforts to integrate new technologies into the voting process. Those new technologies include advances in voting machine systems and other voting innovations. The Commission did not specifically recommend online voting, but presumably it includes online voting among the voting innovations that should be pursued in an effort to expand the scope of voter participation.
The Commission recognized that integration of new technologies into the election process requires modifications to existing certification policies and standards associated with voting machines and other election technologies. It urged all of the many diverse jurisdictions that exercise authority over elections in the United States to examine and modify as necessary their applicable election technology standards to facilitate prompt integration of new technologies into existing voting systems.
The Commission’s support for more active and effective use of information and communications technologies in the electoral process is timely and significant. As the Commission has properly noted, there are a variety of ways in which technology can be applied immediately to improve the fairness of American elections.
Every effort should be made to expand the pool of eligible voters in the United States and to increase their rate of participation in the electoral process. Information and communications technologies can play a substantial and immediate role to expand the scope of voter participation and to improve the quality of election administration.
The Commission appropriately recognized that the primary goal of electoral processes and election administration is to protect the integrity and fairness of American elections. Technology has an important role to play in pursuit of that mission. The Commission wisely recognized that role, and now it is time for all of the various election authorities involved in the process of election administration in the United States to follow the Commission’s lead on that point.