Like Sisyphus and his rock, Mississippi Congressman Gregg Harper has once again introduced a resolution to dissolve the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC). Under H.R. 634, the EAC would terminate 60-days after the enactment of the resolution. Some functions of the Commission would transfer to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The bill was introduced on Jan. 24 and approved by a 6-3 party line vote in the House Administration Committee. In a statement, Harper says that the existence of the EAC is not necessary to conduct federal elections is a “waste of taxpayer funds.” Despite Harper’s insistence that the Commission has run its course of usefulness, bipartisan support for the EAC remains. “In the days leading up to the mark-up and in the days since, we’ve receive notes from election officials and voters across the nation thanking us for our work and validating the important role we play,” said EAC Chairman Thomas Hicks. “We’ve also received widespread, bipartisan support from advocacy groups within the beltway and beyond. Anyone with questions about our value should speak directly with the election officials and voters we serve.”
One of those supporting the continued existence is Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams (R). Williams, who has been in office since 2014, says that the EAC in its current incarnation has been extremely helpful to his office.
“The EAC in its present incarnation, and I can’t speak to the old incarnation, they understand their role as an advisory body,” Williams said. “They’ve been very responsive. They reach out to the states. They show up. They listen. And that’s not been my experience with any other federal agencies and so I guess this seems to be the one that is actually working right now and so I would much rather have concentrate efforts on fixing or eliminating agencies that don’t work than those do.”
Williams stressed the work the EAC is doing to certify testing labs and establish standards is incredibly beneficial to secretaries of state as many are navigating new voting systems and a changing electorate. “The integrity of the election process is not a partisan issue and that’s true whether the secretary of state is a Republican or Democrat,” Williams said. “I believe the EAC is trying to ensure the election process works well.”