WILMINGTON, Del. – In its report to President Obama on Wednesday, the Presidential Commission on Election Administration (PCEA) included several recommendations that would be addressed by the Louis L. Redding Fair, Accurate, Secure and Timely (FAST) Voting Act, first introduced by U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) after the 2012 elections. Among other key recommendations, the Commission urged:

  • An expansion of online voter registration by the states to enhance both accuracy of the voter rolls and efficiency;
  • The expansion of voting before Election Day, recognizing that the majority of states now provide either mail balloting or in-person early voting and that voters are increasingly seeking these options;
  • Improving the ability of military and overseas voters to access ballots and other voting materials through the states’ websites;
  • The increased use of electronic pollbooks for greater accuracy and efficiency;
  • Assuring that polling places are accessible to all voters, are located close to where voters live and are designed to function smoothly;
  • Increasing and enhancing training and recruitment of poll workers, in the recognition that volunteer poll workers are voters’ primary source of contact during the actual voting process;
  • Addressing the needs of voters with disabilities and those with limited English proficiency.

“As Americans, the right to vote is among our most fundamental values,” Senator Coons said. “The 2012 elections were a wakeup call, revealing that significant challenges and dysfunction still plague the election process in many districts. I introduced the FAST Voting Act to jumpstart states’ election reforms, and I am glad to see that the recommendations released today by the PCEA reflect the same core ideas embedded in that legislation. We can and must take steps now to improve the voting experience across America. It’s time for Congress to pass the FAST Voting Act and follow through on the strong recommendations put forth today by the PCEA. Americans deserve better in 2014.”

Prominently featured throughout the 71-page PCEA report (http://bit.ly/1kY29ZX) is the testimony of Delaware State Election Commissioner Elaine Manlove, who appeared before the Commission on September 4, 2013.

“I am especially proud of the significant contribution made by Delaware State Election Commissioner Elaine Manlove to the PCEA’s report,” Senator Coons said. “Commissioner Manlove and Delaware’s state leaders are leading efforts to improve the voting process for our citizens, and their model will help to set the standard for free and fair elections across the country.” 

The FAST Voting Act would create a competitive grant program to encourage states to aggressively pursue election reform. The states that demonstrate the most comprehensive and promising reform plans would earn a greater portion of the grant funding. Applicant states are encouraged to improve access to the polls in at least nine specified ways, including: 

  • Providing flexible registration opportunities, including same-day registration;
  • Providing early voting, at a minimum of 9 of the 10 calendar days preceding an election;
  • Providing absentee voting, including no-excuse absentee voting;
  • Providing assistance to voters who do not speak English as a primary language;
  • Providing assistance to voters with disabilities, including visual impairment;
  • Providing effective access to voting for members of the armed services;
  • Providing formal training of election officials, including State and county administrators and volunteers;
  • Auditing and reducing waiting times at polling stations; and
  • Creating contingency plans for voting in the event of a natural or other disaster.

The bill, which is cosponsored by Senators Mark Warner (D-Va.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), also requires an assessment of steps the state has taken to eliminate statutory, regulatory, procedural and other barriers to expedited voting and accessible voter registration.

The New York Times (http://nyti.ms/T5DvnK) and Washington Post (http://bit.ly/TmwS6b) offered their support for the FAST Voting Act in late 2012.