The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Tim Bradley,
314-440-9936 (cell) or 646-452-5637 or

Statement on Election Day

Record Turnout, Registration Hurdles, Machine Failures & Long Lines Put Strains on the System


Following an Election Day full of record turnout, long lines, machines
problems and registration challenges, the voting rights and voting technology
team at the Brennan Center for Justice issued the following statement:

the election ran smoothly in many places, with huge voter turnout. An
unprecedented number of Americans voted, many for the first time, and that is
great news," said Wendy Weiser, director of voting rights and elections at the
Brennan Center for Justice. "But while a lot of people voted, a lot of people
also had problems at the polls," she continued.

number one problem on Election Day was registered, eligible voters' names not
appearing on the voter rolls. Second, the vast turnout put a major stress
on the system, leading to long lines in many places because of machine failures
and a lack of contingency plans.

democracy is strong, but the problems we saw before and on Election Day are
proof that the process is way too complicated and that the registration system
is too vulnerable to error and manipulation. Americans deserve confidence that
they will get to vote and that their votes will be counted. We should
take this opportunity to improve our voting system-especially the voter
registration system-to make it work better for all Americans. We don't
want to spend every election fighting over the rules of the game and who gets
to vote and questioning whether the result will be legitimate," Weiser stated.

estimated national turnout was 64%, according to Michael McDonald of George
Mason University.

we are to continue moving toward fuller participation, the system has to be
ready," Weiser continued.

"Record turnout is a good thing, but it creates strain on the
system," said Lawrence Norden, director of voting technology at the Brennan
Center. "And the big question when machines fail is, what plans do
jurisdictions have in place to deal with them? We saw on Election Day that the
biggest problems came from states where machines failed and there was a little
or no contingency plan to handle it," he stated.

"Technology can fail-but that only becomes a dire problem when
there is not a clear response plan in place, including requirements to have
emergency paper ballots at the polls," Norden stated.

were a lot of healthy signs on Election Day, including record turnout and many
places where voting went smoothly," stated Michael Waldman, Executive Director
of the Brennan Center. "We just have a system that needs updating. The
registration system needs to be fixed, and we need to ensure that the system
accommodates all voters. Many of the problems and frustrations voters
encountered this election could be resolved by modernizing our voter
registration system. We need a system of standard voter registration in
which the government makes sure that every eligible citizen is automatically
registered, so that every eligible voter's voice can be heard when they take
responsibility to vote," Waldman stated.

more on universal voter registration, visit the Brennan Center website here.

Waldman, Wendy Weiser and Lawrence Norden are available for interviews. Please
contact Tim Bradley at 646-452-5637, 314-440-9936 or

The Brennan Center for Justice is a nonpartisan law and policy institute. We strive to uphold the values of democracy. We stand for equal justice and the rule of law. We work to craft and advance reforms that will make American democracy work, for all.

(646) 292-8310