January 25, 2005

TO:
  Gracia Hillman, Chair of the Election Assistance Commission
FROM:
  Kay J. Maxwell, President
RE:
  Election Reform

Thank you for convening the meeting yesterday with members of the EAC and civil and voting rights organizations. I thought the dialogue was both stimulating and instructive, and hope that EAC commissioners did as well. The League appreciates the openness and concern that your invitation to meet with the EAC demonstrates, and we look forward to assisting you in any way we can as the Commission embarks on an ambitious and important agenda for 2005.

As I said yesterday, the League is focusing much of its election reform work on five key areas of concern. Below is a brief outline of those concerns.

I. Provisional balloting. The League supports: 1) uniform standards for issuing, processing and counting provisional ballots, clearly stated and uniformly applied; and 2) the counting of all provisional ballots for all races for which each voter is eligible (including those cast from outside the voter’s “home” precinct).

II. Statewide computerized voter registration lists. The League supports: 1) a single, uniform, official, centralized interactive system administered at the state level; 2) ensuring that voter registration intake agencies, including DMV, public assistance and disability agencies, are fully and electronically integrated in the computerized system; and 3) strong safeguards against erroneous purging that are clearly stated and uniformly applied.

III. Voting systems. The League supports the implementation of voting systems and procedures that are secure, accurate, recountable, and accessible. We do not support any specific technology, believing instead that standards must allow for technological innovation. Any analysis of voting systems must be balanced, and apply the same criteria equally and appropriately to all systems, including any attached devices for recording, printing, or other function. In particular, the League supports: 1) “second chance” voting, including notification to the voter and the opportunity to correct ballots in the case of overvoting or mistakes; 2) audit capacity and testing, 3) disability access, 4) alternative language access, and 5) standards to ensure low error rates.

IV. Polling place operations. The League supports: 1) a new national effort to examine polling place operations for the 21st Century; 2) uniform standards to ensure sufficient working voting machines for each polling place and for all voters; 3) guidelines to provide better organization of polling places; and 4) emergency response mechanisms to correct problems on Election Day.

V. Poll worker recruitment and training. The League supports: 1) a new national effort to recruit a larger, better trained and more diverse election workforce; 2) guidelines for use of government employees as poll workers; 3) guidelines for the recruitment of poll workers, including diverse populations; and 4) best practices for uniform poll worker training systems, including definition of minimum standards.

Again, thank you for organizing and facilitating a meeting that offered the opportunity for each of us to share our work and concerns in an informal and collegial atmosphere. Certainly we in the League of Women Voters look forward to working with the EAC in the years ahead to reach common goals.