The commission President Obama appointed last year to figure out how to fix long lines at the polls and other election problems has sought to steer clear of the many partisan land mines surrounding how Americans vote. The two co-chairmen of the panel continued to that navigation Wednesday as they presented their unanimous recommendations to the Senate Rules Committee. When asked by Democrat Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota whether some states were doing things intentionally to disenfranchise voters — like limiting early-voting days — commission co-chairman and Democratic election lawyer Bob Bauer responded diplomatically. First, he said the commission was struck by how much it had heard from both Democrats and Republicans, “once the lights were off and the doors were closed,” about their desire to improve the way elections are run. And then he told senators that any partisan plots to disenfranchise voters would be far less likely to succeed if states adopted some of the changes proposed by the bipartisan panel, like improving the accuracy of voter registration lists.
“There’s more vulnerability of the system to those sorts of shenanigans if the system itself is weak,” Bauer said. “If it’s strong, it’s less likely that it will break down under political pressure or by political design.”
His co-chairman, Republican attorney Ben Ginsberg, also said the panel found a lot of common ground when it came to elections, including agreement that no voter should have to wait more than 30 minutes to cast a ballot. Some voters had to wait six or more hours in 2012 to vote.