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April 06, 2021 ABA Task Force for American Democracy

Improving the Voting Experience After 2020

Bipartisan Policy Center


Voting reform narratives often offer a false dichotomy between a complete expansion of all voting options or draconian voting rights restrictions. This report rejects that premise and offers 12 bipartisan recommendations for reform of voting administration. The recommendations are endorsed by a bipartisan group of state and local election officials from across the country. The recommendations draw upon the experience of the 2020 elections and emphasize voters’ increased utilization of early voting methods. The report’s recommendations focus heavily on the administration of elections covering topics that include: electoral deadlines, security and integrity of voting systems, contingency planning, and election worker security.

Key Findings/Messages

Election administrators must strive to codify electoral policies well in advance of election day and courts must disincentivize last minute electoral litigation. The 2020 election saw increased use of early-voting due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Early-voting participation is unlikely to recede; state officials must clarify and publicize early-voting procedures and deadlines.   

Key Recommendations Made

  • Any changes to election administration should be made well in advance of elections. A one-year lead time is ideal; 90-days should be the minimum. Any changes made less than 90 days before an election risk administrative mistakes and voter confusion.
  • Courts should expedite consideration of election law cases in an election year.  Courts should disincentivize last-minute electoral litigation and avoid issuing court orders affecting elections within 90 days of Election Day.
  • States should develop emergency election procedures that include contingencies for weather, terrorism, or other disasters.
  • States should mandate voting systems that produce voter-verifiable paper ballots.  “Voter-verifiable paper ballots are the foundation of a secure election system.”
  • Voters should have the option of voting early and in-person for at least seven days in advance for a federal election.
  • Allow election officials to redact their home addresses from public records and increase funding for physical security of election personnel.