Monday, October 20th, 2014

The Obameter

Fix problems of voter access such as long lines on Election Day and on early voting days


"I want to thank every American who participated in this election, whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time. By the way, we have to fix that."


Updates

Commission formed to study fixes

President Barack Obama put voting reform front and center, by mentioning it at the beginning of his acceptance speech on Nov. 7, 2012.


"Tonight, in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back, and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come.  


"I want to thank every American who participated in this election. Whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time -- by the way, we have to fix that. … You made your voice heard, and you made a difference,” he said.


Almost five months into his second term, Obama announced the formation of a Presidential Commission on Election Administration.


"The commission shall identify best practices and otherwise make recommendations to promote the efficient administration of elections in order to ensure that all eligible voters have the opportunity to cast their ballots without undue delay, and to improve the experience of voters facing other obstacles in casting their ballots, such as members of the military, overseas voters, voters with disabilities, and voters with limited English proficiency,” his March 28, 2013, executive order said.


The commission"s two co-chairs are the lawyers for Obama and rival Mitt Romney in the 2012 election: Ben Ginsburg of the Romney campaign and Ben Bauer, Obama"s campaign lawyer. The panel will have up to nine members appointed by Obama. He is asking for a report in six months on issues including management and number of polling places, training and number of poll workers, voting machine technology, provisional and absentee ballot issues and ballot simplicity.


The group"s work is "intended to serve as a best practices guide for state and local election officials to improve voters" experience at the polls under their existing election laws,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.


Already, the panel has its critics -- conservatives who think the effort is a federal overreach into a state issue, and liberals who see voting irregularities as a serious problem that the commission isn"t empowered to fix. Indeed, election rules and procedures are directed primarily by state and local governments.


But the forming of the commission is a first step. We rate this promise In the Works.

Sources:

White House website, "Executive Order -- Establishment of the Presidential Commission of Election Administration,” March 28, 2013


White House website, "Remarks by the President on Election Night,” Nov. 7, 2013


Washington Post, "Obama creates voting commission,” March 28, 2013


POLITICO, "President Obama faces pressure on election reform,” Jan. 15, 2013