Across the country, there is a growing sense of frustration as election night drags on into election week, and beyond. In too many states, the simple task of counting votes is proceeding at a glacial pace. Some states have near-instant results within hours. Others take weeks, fueling distrust, conspiracy theories, and recriminations. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Regardless of other variations in state election procedures, every state can adopt best practices to ensure a reasonably quick, accurate, and confidence-inspiring vote count. We know it can be done, because many states already do it.
This paper outlines five principles on best practices for policymakers to consider. All of these policies are already in use in at least some states, a mix of red and blue states, and in some cases, a majority of the states. Also addressed are some common misconceptions and erroneous ideas that have arisen on both sides of the aisle. Better, faster vote counting need not be a partisan issue. All of these recommendations can be achieved on a bipartisan basis. With legislators working in good faith, it is possible to address concerns about both election integrity and voter suppression in a fair, unbiased manner. Simply getting the votes counted in a timely manner is a good place to start.