A couple of experts from the good-government advocacy group Citizens Union testified earlier this month before a state Assembly election law committee about a range of improvements needed in how elections run in this state.
Their list of problems observed was extensive, but they offered specific legislative solutions to help fix them. And many of those proposals have been formally introduced in the state Legislature as bills for consideration.
Unfortunately, as the two people who testified at this Dec. 14 hearing noted, nothing of substance was done over the past 12 months.
The results were elections that in many parts of the state featured long lines at the polling places. They also observed ballots that were confusing and/or difficult to read because of the type size. And they also noticed too many polling place workers who were poorly trained to do their jobs.
We heard some of those complaints in Cayuga County. A common concern from the most recent election was the lack of awareness that a countywide referendum question was on the backside of the ballot. Many voters didn't know about it until after they voted, and they said poll workers did not bring it to their attention.
This was one isolated problem in one small, rural county. But as Citizen Union found out, these types of problems are far too common on Election Day.
Early voting legislation, ballot reform with a standard minimum font size and a polling worker recruiting and training program are among the changes that could help improve the efficiency of Election Day, and ultimately help improve the purity of the results.
The state Legislature will certainly have a great amount of high-priority items to tackle in 2013. The continued struggle with the state budget deficit, minimum wage legislation and campaign finance reform all will take considerable effort to work through.
But the importance of making the state's elections run better cannot be overstated. We hope lawmakers will not overlook these crucial bills once again.