Donald Palmer, a fellow with BPC’s Democracy Project, testified before the U.S. Election Assistance Commission about BPC’s activities in the months leading up to the 2016 election and some goals for progress in 2017. BPC continues the work of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration (PCEA). The commission’s report was published in 2014.
PCEA’s primary goal was to improve the voting experience of all voters and to improve voter confidence in the integrity of election administration. Democrats and Republicans, election officials, and business-oriented leaders came together on the commission to endorse a number of measures aimed to streamline voter registration and address the existing voting technology crisis.
PCEA set a broad goal that no voter should wait more than 30 minutes to cast a ballot and urged states and localities to take action to meet that target. BPC seeks to reduce the potential for lines by working closely with jurisdictions through a joint BPC-Massachusetts Institute of Technology project to collect data about where and when lines occur. The project in 2016 implemented a nationwide effort to measure Election Day lines across the country and has plans to expand the data collection network in cycles to come. Participating jurisdictions spanned 22 states and ranged from very small counties to densely populated metro areas with more than 4.5 million registered voters, in total representing more than 45 million registered voters. It is our hope that this data will allow election officials to make better, evidence-based decisions to improve the voting experience.
There were isolated technical issues during the election, and the country’s election administrators and policymakers must continue to focus on the security and accuracy of the nation’s voter registration infrastructure. While there were no meltdowns in the system during the election, next year presents key opportunities to address weaknesses to ensure that American election administration is once again an example for the world.