A draft summary of what I see as the most important, most doable, federal election reform priorities for 2009...
By Brad Friedman on 3/10/2009, 5:49pm PT  

-- Brad Friedman, The BRAD BLOG

Okay, so I've been asked on several occasions, since the election last year, what I regard as the top priorities for election reform in the U.S. of A. In hopes of keeping it simple, stupid, at least until I hear opinions on these back from you folks, here is a summary list of the most important, and most eminently-doable-at-the-federal-level reforms as I see it.

I welcome your thoughts, recommended changes, additions, etc. For the moment, this is not meant as a comprehensive list of all needed reforms, particularly at the various local levels. But it's meant as a list of the big ones, as I seem them, and the ones for which I believe we could actually find a consensus in this Congress sooner rather than later. Nor is this meant as whitepaper with arguments and details for each item. But hopefully most regular readers of The BRAD BLOG will understand what these reforms entail and why they are necessary, as written in this summarized, simple list.

After hearing from you all, I may post an updated version later and/or set these up on their own page, in order track legislation for each of them as they roll (or don't) through Congress. Here's the list...

  • Hand-Marked Paper Ballots For All: All ballot selections, in all federal elections, must be hand-marked by the voter, on paper ballots, except for ballots marked by a non-tabulating assistive device, as may be required to meet HAVA's accessibility voting mandate, one per polling place, for use by those who wish such assistance in order to vote privately and independently.
  • Fully Disclosed Hardware & Software: All electronic voting and tabulating systems (eg. ballot tabulators, ballot marking devices for optional use voters who wish assistance), in jurisdictions that may use such systems, must employ fully open source, publicly disclosed hardware and software.
  • Precinct-Based Counting: Ballots cast at the precinct are to be counted in a fully public, transparent, and verifiable manner at the local precinct level, with full citizen observation allowed by law, and results posted publicly at the precinct before either ballots or results are forwarded to any other location(s).
  • Voting Databases Released: All vote tabulation databases are to be made available to the public.
  • Full Transparency: All ballot counting/tabulation/auditing processes are to be fully open and transparent to any and all members of the public.
  • No Remote/Networked Communications: No voting system may have remote communication capabilities, infrared or bluetooth capabilities, or be attached to the Internet or to a local area network at any time.
  • No Internet Voting: No ballots may be cast over the Internet.
  • Disclosure of Federal Testing Processes/Results: All federal voting system testing/certification processes must be fully documented and results made immediately available for public inspection.
  • Outlaw Deceptive Practices: Deceptive practices (such as disinformation concerning Election Day, poll locations, and registration information and processes, etc.), voter caging (the removal of voters from the rolls without notification or process for appeal), and voter intimidation (eg. use of threats, uniformed officers at the polls, etc.) shall be outlawed. These laws shall be enforced and penalized as felony crimes.
  • Same Day Registration: Same day voter registration will be mandated for all voters in federal elections.
  • Ban Disenfranchising Photo ID Restrictions: Restrictive Photo ID measures at the polling place must be outlawed. Federalize the types of voter ID that may be required at the polls for federal elections.
  • Notification of Rejected Absentee Ballots: All voters are to be notified and allowed timely opportunity to appeal the rejection of their absentee ballots for any reason.
  • Make Election Day a Holiday: Election Day must be made a federal holiday.
  • Move Election Day to Wednesday: Election Day is to be moved to Wednesday. (Would likely require a Constitutional amendment - see this for a quick explanation of why moving it to Wednesday is a good idea.)
  • "Right to Vote" Amendment: Amend the U.S. Constitution to declare a federal "Right to Vote" in all federal elections.
  • Disenfranchisement a Felony Crime: The purposeful disenfranchisement of any legal voter, for any reason, by any person, in any election, at any time, is to be a felony crime. Each individual case of such disenfranchisement is to be prosecutable to the full extent of the law.

So what are your thoughts?...