-By Chelsea Kiene
February 4, 2013- As the federal government works to address the long lines and administrative problems voters nationwide faced on Election Day, a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice argues that the first steps should be modernizing voter registration, providing a national period for early voting and setting minimum standards for polling place access.
During his victory speech on Nov. 6, President Barack Obama thanked Americans for turning out to vote, noting many people had waited in line for hours to do so. He made clear that voting reform would be a priority in his second term, when he said that the country needed to "fix" those long lines so that all Americans are able to carry out their constitutional right.
In its new report released Monday, the Brennan Center said the biggest obstacle facing America’s electoral system — and a central cause of long lines on Election Day — is the country’s outdated voter registration system.
Calling the U.S. voter registration system significantly outdated and rife with errors, the report recommends modernizing voter registration through technological upgrades funded by the federal government. Such updates, the report states, would allow voters to update registration information online or through various government agencies, creating more accurate, updated voter rolls — and minimizing confusion and congestion at the polls on Election Day.
Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program and author of the report, said he believes that by involving multiple government agencies — such as local Departments of Motor Vehicles, Army recruitment offices and Social Security offices — consenting voters can easily update their registration and as many as 50 million eligible citizens will be added to voter rolls.
Norden also said that using information from as many government agencies as possible would allow voter rolls to be purged of voters who have moved or are deceased, creating more accurate rolls less susceptible to voter fraud.