Election Reform


Get a closer look: read our Voting in 2008 report, an in-depth survey of ten swing states heading into Election Day 2008.


Since the electoral meltdown in the 2000 presidential election, each Election Day has raised new alarms that the foundation of our democracy - the right to vote in free and fair elections - remains beset with problems. Years after serious problems were exposed to the public, it has become increasingly apparent that our elections system is technologically, legally, and administratively inadequate and unfair.

Our broad goals for overhauling the nation’s system of voting include:



Specifically, Common Cause is focused on:


Voter-Verified Paper Ballot. A major priority is passage of legislation at the federal and state levels to protect citizens’ votes in the event of electronic voting machine malfunction or hacking. Such legislation would require all voting systems to use paper ballots or produce paper records that would be subject to random mandatory audits. The fact that voters would mark the ballots themselves, or at least verify physical paper records of their votes, would assure there could be a check on the electronic count. Additionally, if a recount were needed - there would be paper records or ballots that the voters have reviewed that can be recounted.

Fair and Effective Voter Database Management Protocols. A number of states have developed fair and effective voter database management protocols so that voters are not inadvertently purged from the rolls. These ‘best practices’ should be adopted nationwide.

Election Day Registration. Common Cause is working to encourage states to establish Election Day Registration, which would help ensure that eligible voters are not disenfranchised.

Early Voting and No-excuse Absentee Voting. Common Cause is working to establish ‘no-excuse’ absentee and early in-person voting in every state.


Voting By Mail. Voting by mail, used everywhere in Oregon and extensively in Washington state, is a process that makes voting more convenient for voters, thus removing a number of the hurdles created by voting machine shortages, long lines, voter intimidation and the inconveniences of in-person voting. Common Cause supports pilot projects to further study the benefits and problems of voting by mail. Click here to see fact sheet on VBM.


Criminalizing Voter Suppression and Intimidation Tactics. Common Cause is working to support legislation designed to curb voter suppression tactics.


Stopping Passage of Onerous Voter Identification Laws. Overly restrictive voter ‘identification ‘ laws in a number of states have had the intended or unintended effect of keeping eligible Americans - most often the elderly, minority, and low-income citizens - from voting in the name of fraud prevention. While Common Cause supports reasonable fraud prevention measures, there is no evidence of a widespread problem, and many states have good laws designed to eliminate voter fraud through much less burdensome requirements to verify identity.

DC Voting Rights. Common Cause is fighting to right a 200-year-old injustice that denies the District of Columbia’s nearly 600,000 residents voting representation in Congress.

Nonpartisan Administration of Elections. Common Cause believes that chief election officials should not be permitted to participate in political campaigns.



Other election issues include:

National Popular Vote. Common Cause supports changing the Electoral College’s current allocation system to one where states agree to cast their electoral votes for the candidate who wins the national popular vote. The U.S. Constitution gives each state the authority to choose its own system for picking electors, and over our history states have used a variety of methods for doing so. By acting together, states can choose to elect the president who wins the national popular vote. Click here to see a fact sheet on NPV.

Redistricting Reform. Common Cause supports the creation of independent redistricting commissions to draw legislative district lines, as opposed to the current system that consists mostly of state legislators drawing district lines to protect their seats and preserve their party’s power. In seeking to take the redistricting process out of the hands of partisan politicians and to establish fair criteria to guide the redistricting process, Common Cause’s goal is to create legislative and congressional districts that are representative of the population and districting plans that result in more competitive congressional and legislative districts.