Congressman John Garamendi

Representing the 3rd District of California
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Congressman Garamendi Urges Swift Action on Presidential Commission on Election Administration Recommendations

January 23, 2014
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – After a six-month review of election law in America, the bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration released its recommendations to improve voting access in America. Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA) embraces the recommendations and urges swift action to help ease voter access to the polls in 2014 and beyond.

“In a representative government, all rights begin with voting rights,” Congressman Garamendi said. “These reforms are commonsense and should be non-controversial: expanding online voter registration, expanding early voting opportunities, modernizing voting machines, easing voting access for servicemembers overseas, and providing more polling locations to prevent multi-hour long waits at the polls. Let’s get this done.”

During the 2012 election, in some precincts people waited in line up to seven hours to vote, a problem that disproportionately impacted students and persons of color. According to a study conducted at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, nationwide, there were wide racial disparities in wait times during the 2012 presidential election. While whites waited an average of 12 minutes nationwide, Latinos waited an average of 19 minutes and blacks waited an average of 23 minutes. The states where the lines were longest in 2012 were also the states where the lines were longest in 2008.

The key reforms called for in the 112-page report include:

  • Modernization of the registration process through continued expansion of online voter  registration and expanded state collaboration in improving the accuracy of voter lists;
  • Measures to improve access to the polls through expansion of the period for voting before the traditional Election Day, and through the selection of suitable, well-equipped polling place facilities, such as schools;
  • State-of-the-art techniques to assure efficient management of polling places, including tools the Commission is publicizing and recommending for the efficient allocation of polling place resources; and
  • Reforms of the standard-setting and certification process for new voting technology to address soon-to-be antiquated voting machines and to encourage innovation and the adoption of widely available off-the-shelf technologies.

The full report is available here:

President Obama created the Commission in March. It is co-chaired by, Benjamin L. Ginsberg and Robert F. Bauer, the chief lawyers for the Romney for President and Obama for President campaigns.

The website for the Commission also includes a helpful toolkit for local poll workers interested in learning what best practices they can implement to ease access to the polls.

“As this Congress works to restore the Voting Rights Act, the Commission’s report provides a welcomed reminder that voting is a precious right that must be defended,” Garamendi added. “While some reforms I would have liked to see included in the report were omitted, including same-day voter registration, the Commission’s report is a good starting point. On the local, state, and federal levels, let’s work together to make sure no voter is disenfranchised.”