[JURIST] Former President Jimmy Carter [Carter Center profile] and former Secretary of State James A. Baker III [Wikipedia profile] Monday opened the first public hearings of the Commission on Federal Election Reform [official website], set up to continue the election reforms of Help America Vote Act of 2002. Kay Maxwell, president of the US League of Women Voters [advocacy website], testified [text, PDF] to the need for new government initiatives and funding to reduce long lines and secure more voting machines and poll workers. Other witnesses proposed a national holiday on election day to increase turnout and decrease waiting time to vote. One topic on the Carter-Baker commission agenda is the questions of whether paperless electronic voting machines are prone to fraud, or whether the public perceives them that way. A separate US commission is overseeing the electoral problems from 2000, including the hanging chad on punch-card ballots. Many liberal groups have objected [Common Dreams press release] to Baker's place on the commission because of his role as President Bush's representative during the contested 2000 election. The commission will hold a second hearing June 30 at the James A. Baker Institute for Public Policy [institute website] at Rice University in Houston, and plans to submit a final report to Congress in September. The Commission website has the prepared testimony of today's witnesses. Bloomberg has more on the session.