Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan has tossed out a couple of good ideas to improve elections.

Carnahan is already on the record supporting early voting, something most states already have. Missouri still puts voters in the position of perhaps having to fib about their plans to be out of town, or otherwise indisposed, in order to get an absentee ballot. This is a common-sense change that’s popular and needed. Other states make this work, and we can too.

Addressing editors and publishers last week at the state Capitol, Carnahan also suggested a change in poll worker rules.

Here’s the problem: The polls in Missouri are open for 13 hours on election day, but the folks sitting behind the table checking your name off the list and handing you a ballot have to be there before the polls open, and they stay late. And the pay? Think jury duty. The folks who step up to do this work tend to be retirees who are basically giving their time. Carnahan claims the average age of poll workers is higher than 70.

Why do we make this so hard? Why not split those shifts in half? Poll workers could put in eight hours and call it a day? Maybe that would open the door for a few folks with full-time jobs to help out too. It’s worth debating.

The other idea springs from the whole ACORN controversy last fall. Acorn is an activist group that’s gotten into the business of registering voters. That’s fine, but at least some of its workers went overboard and turned in lists of names that just didn’t check out – a fact quickly uncovered by election officials in Jackson County, just to take one prominent instance. Our local officials did a good job of stopping this possible fraud in its tracks.

Carnahan’s suggestion was simple: Get rid of third parties registering people to vote. There are ample opportunities for individuals to sign up. Again, why make this so hard?