The United States’ electoral system has always been imperfect — a work in progress. And yet the health of our democracy depends on the quality of our elections. All over the country, we entrust local officials to run elections as smoothly as possible. In fact, we depend on these officials to oversee more than 8,000 election jurisdictions nationwide — verifying the eligibility of voters, designing the ballots, and counting the votes.
The decentralized administration of elections means there are always new challenges to be addressed and new opportunities for improvement. It is for this reason that the Presidential Commission on Election Administration (PCEA) was established by an Executive Order on March 28, 2013, with the goal of confronting problems and institutionalizing processes that allow for improvement.
After an extensive six-month inquiry, the bipartisan PCEA, comprised of experts and practitioners, issued The American Voting Experience report, which stated: “the problems hindering efficient administration of elections are both identifiable and solvable.” In the report, members of the PCEA unanimously agreed on a set of best practices and recommendations they hoped would focus institutional energy on a select number of important policy changes, while spawning experimentation among the thousands of local officials who shared similar concerns.
This update highlights the progress made in several areas, since the reports release, notably in the areas of voter registration, access to voting, polling place management, and voting technology.