In recent years, the issue of voting rights has exploded into a high-octane partisan battle, with Republicans backing laws restricting access to the ballot, Democrats loudly crying foul, and no resolution in sight. But a new presidential panel aimed at fixing problems in the U.S. voting system could offer a way around the stalemate. Following up on an Election Night pledge to fix the long lines that kept some voters waiting over seven hours to cast a ballot, President Obama last week formally created the Presidential Commission on Election Administration, and gave it a broad mandate to improve the voting experience. “When any Americans—no matter where they live or what their party—are denied that right [to vote] simply because they can’t wait for five, six, seven hours just to cast their ballot, we are betraying our ideals,” Obama said in his State of the Union address.
The commission—chaired by two prominent Washington election lawyers, Democrat Bob Bauer and Republican Ben Ginsberg—has six months to deliver a report with recommendations for fixes. The White House declined to provide information about the expected date of its first meeting, and about the commission’s hiring plans and budget. Aides have said that the commission will also contain customer-service experts and election officials.
The panel faces some significant challenges. Its recommendations are non-binding, and even if Obama decides to take them up, he’d need the support of Congress to make real improvements. Many Republicans—including Rep. Candice Miller, who oversaw elections as Michigan’s secretary of state and now chairs the House committee with jurisdiction on the issue—oppose federal efforts to streamline and standardize elections, arguing that election administration should be left to the states.
Full Article: Can Obama’s new panel defuse the voting wars? — MSNBC.