Maybe some localities just need more competent election officials:
President Barack Obama’s State of the Union pledge to create a nonpartisan commission to “improve the voting experience in America” has triggered reactions from the election-overhaul community that range from guarded optimism to overt disappointment.
It baffles me why some parts of the country seem to have such a problem with elections. It's not exactly rocket science and with optical scanning systems it is not only easy to process large numbers of ballots efficiently, it's possible to instantly check for errors such as double voting for one office right there before the voter leaves.
Right-size your precincts. Properly staff and equip them. Maintain your registered voter rolls. It's a pretty simple formula. I realize there are areas that can be exceptions, but I'll bet a six-pack that the overwhelming majority of problem voting precincts are not matters of exception, but choice.
For example, there's a picture at that link above of a long line of people waiting to vote in Washington D.C. Bummer, right? Well, if nothing has changed since 2004 then the perhaps the problem is that DC has chosen to have voting precincts that are 2.5 times larger than the national average of 1338 voting age residents per precinct. If that's what DC voters want that's fine, but then don't complain about long lines. If that's not what they want, then they should get the mayor and other local officials to choose more wisely and either make smaller voting districts or properly staff and equip the ones they have to handle the load.
My own voting precinct has grown quite a bit with several new apartment/condo projects added to the area in the last five years. The number of voting age residents is probably over 2000 now, but the polling place seems to be handling it. There are jams in the early morning and after work, but those result in waits of maybe ten or fifteen minutes based on my experience and what my neighbors say. I don't like to wait anymore than the next guy, but ten or fifteen minutes is no big deal. Hours? All I can say to that is it wouldn't be tolerated here. The local politicians would be getting their butts chewed off.
Here's what I think the president should have said:
"Running elections is one of the basic functions of local government. With the modern tools available to easily and efficiently cast and tabulate ballots at polling places there is no excuse for hours long waits to vote. If local election officials are not doing their job then it is up to local voters to hold them accountable. If they aren't willing to do so, then they aren't doing their job. We don't need commissions, we don't need gimmicks, we just need everybody to live up to their responsibilities."