WASHINGTON – The House Administration Committee set out Thursday to discuss how to motivate more people to vote,but one underlying issue with elections cropped up.
Cameron Quinn,former secretary of the Virginia Board of Elections,said poll workers do not have enough resources to keep up with ever-changing election standards.
Quinn voiced her opinion after another witness at the committee's hearing said poll workers are not properly trained to resolve problems during election.
“We need to find the resources for election offices to implement the changes we ask them to do,” Quinn said.
Tom Wilkey,executive director for the Election Assistance Commission,said in an interview that the more disconcerting issue is the aging poll worker force.
“I think recruitment is the bigger issue,” he said. “That is not to say funding can't be a problem. We are facing some real financial situations around the country.”
Wilkey said the aging poll worker force has become apprehensive because of changing regulations and new technology.
He said the commission is focusing on recruiting college students to work at polls on Election Day.
He said states across the nation have voiced concerns about recruitment.
“We know that is a huge problem,and we try to tackle to that by giving them direct resources,” Wilkey said.
He said poll workers receive an adequate training,which varies from state to state. He said training can include a two-hour or four-hour on site training session as well as online training.
Wilkey said voter problems can be attributed to many reasons. He said training is designed to prepare poll workers for potential problems.
“Some of it,you just have to deal with it as it comes along,” Wilkey said.
Two witnesses said eliminating government identification as a requirement to enter the polls would increase turnout. The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 last year that an Indiana law requiring voters to present a government photo ID was constitutional.
Last year's election drew a record-high 131.3 million voters,9 million more than in 2004. That was about 63 percent of voters,the highest since 1960. Greater turnout among black voters was one of the reasons,according to a report by American University's Center for the Study of the American Electorate.
Lennox Yearwood,president and chief executive officer of the Hip-Hop Caucus,a group that seeks to end urban poverty,equated the ID requirement to a 21st Century version of Jim Crow Laws.
“It disenfranchises communities,” he said.
Thomas Joyner,host of the Tom Joyner Morning Show,said the requirement prohibits the unemployed and citizens without drivers licenses from voting.
Rep. Dan Lungren,R-Calif.,the committee's senior Republican,said requiring government identification for voting should not be construed as an attempt to suppress voter rights.
In response,Joyner said some form of identification should be required,but mandating government identification is too strict.
“The requirement to show a certain from of identification does not cross the wrong lines,” he said. “If you are unemployed,if you are a citizen and you don't have a driver's license,then you should be able to vote because you are a citizen.”