The National Commission on Voting Rights (NCVR) released a report addressing the barriers that are still denying many voters access to the polls.
This report highlights the need for state and local election administrators to increase efforts to improve voters’ experiences by removing obstacles to both registering and casting ballots.
Voter discrimination is still a prevalent and ongoing issue in the United States, and the report digs deeply into the issues and the progress in different states to bridge the gap to make voting as easy as possible for everyone.
The report is broken into three sections: Voter Registration, Election Day and Voting, and Expanding Access and Engaging all Eligible Voters. Each section contains examples of voters who have been turned down at the polling station or were unable to vote due to inaccessibility.
On the positive side, there are examples of technologies and practices that are working well, as well as an increase in voter turnout among young people, minority groups and people with disabilities. The report shows that there are working examples of voting success, but that there is a necessity for uniformity across all 50 states.
On page 46, Public Interest Law Center staff attorney Ben Geffen speaks out about the numerous examples of voters denied access because of the Pennsylvania Voter ID law, which was eventually ruled unconstitutional.
“Even though the state was preliminarily enjoined from enforcing the law in the November
2012 election, a poll worker told Mrs. Baker on Election Day that she wouldn’t be able to
vote in the next election if she still didn’t have an ID card. Sadly, Mrs. Baker stayed home
from the poll in the May 2013 primary election because of the inaccurate information that
she heard from the poll worker,” said Geffen.
Also discussed in the report were same-day voter registration, online registration, pre-registration for those under 18 years old, as well as iPad technology for voters with disabilities and non-English speaking voters. Data in the report collected in 2013 and 2014 shows how a large increase in voters can be achieved when voting is made easier for groups who have had a historically low turnout.
NCVR says that it is their hope that the report will be a valuable contribution to the existing record on election administration and encourage the expansion of programs that allow greater ease and access to the ballot and secure a voice for all in our democracy.