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U.S. panel recommends early voting to cut election day wait times

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - To reduce long election day voting lines, a presidential panel recommended on Wednesday that states explore the possibility of expanding ways that Americans can vote early, an increasingly popular way to vote.

Complaints about long lines in some precincts across the country in the 2012 presidential election prompted President Barack Obama to form a bipartisan commission to look at ways to improve the voting experience.

The Presidential Commission on Election Administration, led by Obama's 2012 campaign lawyer, Bob Bauer, and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's top attorney, Ben Ginsburg, returned with its recommendations. Obama publicized them at an event with commission members in the White House Roosevelt Room.

The panel's key recommendation: States that have not already done so should expand alternative ways of voting, such as mail balloting and in-person early voting.

In addition, the panel said states should encourage the use of schools as polling places. Roughly one-third of Americans already go to schools to vote.

The commission said no American should have to wait more than 30 minutes in a voting line.

Obama said the commission heard from state officials who said voting problems could increase in future elections if not addressed soon. Unlike a lot of countries, he said, Americans vote in a complex system.

"We vote a lot, we have local jurisdictions that run these elections and it make things a little more complicated," Obama said.

Ginsburg told reporters after the event that the panel had looked at the possibility of increasing on-line voting, but decided against this on security grounds.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Stephen Powell)

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