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Obama’s Attempt to Reduce Election Day Poll Lines Gets a Dose of Disney

How about a Fastpass for polling places?

On election night last year, a victorious President Obama vowed to do something about the six- and seven- hour waits that some voters had at the polls. Last month, he announced the members of a new Commission on Election Administration, tasked with streamlining the process. On Friday, the commission held its first public meeting in Washington, which not only set out its agenda but perhaps gave a glimpse of what input some of its members will be giving.

Among the members of the commission is Brian Britton, vice president of global park operations and planning at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, and based in Florida. He didn’t say much at the meeting, but in introducing himself, he said, “We know a thing or two about lines down there.”

“I just want to say I am extremely proud to serve,” he added.

Britton didn’t immediately return a request for comment; nor did an official with the commission.

Disney’s resorts have deployed new techniques to reduce waits, with the introduction of the Fastpass virtual queing system in 1999. It has allowed guests to shave substantial time off their waits, as they essentially make reservations to show up at a ride at a certain time and then have a much shortened wait.

The commission is just getting its start, so it is a little early to say whether theme park techniques are in store at the ballot box.

And it also should be noted that Britton hails from a state that has been ground zero for problems at the polls, from last year’s marathon waits to the infamous 2000 hanging chads that led to a showdown in the Supreme Court.

The 10-member commission, headed by well-known D.C. attorneys Bob Bauer and Ben Ginsburg, is tasked with coming up with a list of recommendations and presenting them to the president within the next six months. They plan to hold a series of public hearings on improving the voter experience, starting with one at the University of Miami in Coral Cables, Fla. on June 28.

Britton, a former Navy aviator, joined Disney in 1999, having previously served as vice president of labor operations, operations strategy and operations support at the Walt Disney World Co. He also is a board member with Community Based Care of Central Florida, which helps foster care kids.

Other industries have studied Disney’s efforts at crowd control, as well as the entire theme park visitor experience. The fact that one of its executives is on the commission is also not so unusual given the ties the company has to the White House. Robert Iger, president and CEO of the Walt Disney Co., was named to the President’s Export Council in 2010, and has been a prolific donor to Obama’s campaign and those of other Democrats. He was among those present when Obama appeared at a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee earlier this month at the home of Peter Chernin.

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