Last week, the Acting Executive Director and General Counsel of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission issued a memo directing the EAC’s 37-member Board of Advisors and 110-member Standards Board to cease all official activities. The two boards, created as part of the Help America Vote Act of 2002, have wide-ranging responsibilities and – in the wake of the resignations of the remaining Commissioners due in part to the growing partisan battle over the EAC’s future in Congress – had been the most active in carrying out the duties of the agency.
The March 25 memo, however, suggests that the lack of EAC Commssioners has a direct impact on the status of the Boards in that there is no longer a “Designated Federal Official” (DFO) for such boards as required under the Federal Advisory Committee Act. EAC policy is to require that the Chair appoint such DFOs – and without Commissioners there is no chair. Consequently, the memo asks the Boards to cease all activity until DFOs can be appointed – but noting that “it appears unlikely that the Senate will confirm new Commissioners in 2012.”
In response, the National Association of State Election Directors – with the subsequent, albeit separate, endorsement of the National Association of Secretaries of State – approved a resolution (2012-1) disagreeing with the memo’s analysis and asking the EAC to reconsider its suspension of the two Boards.