Sen. Tom Courtney isn’t giving up. The Burlington Democrat is turning to the U.S. Senate in his fight against Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz’s federally funded investigation of alleged voter fraud. But what he’s asking for is going to be hard to get. Courtney is asking that the Senate appoint enough members to the Election Assistance Commission for it to function. Such a request may seem like a no-brainer. But the four-member federal panel, created in the aftermath of the disputed 2000 presidential election to help with election administration, currently doesn’t have a single commissioner. As the Election Assistance Commission said in its 2012 annual report, it hasn’t had a quorum since 2010. So far, that doesn’t appear to be changing. One of President Barack Obama’s nominees has been waiting two years for the Senate to act on her appointment. The other nominee has been waiting for three years. Many Republicans don’t even think the commission should exist and, the GOP leadership hasn’t put any names forward to serve on what was created as a bipartisan panel.
“The EAC is still needed,” said Richard Hasen, professor of law and political science at the University of California, Irvine. Hasen, a nationally recognized expert on election law, called the commission’s current state a “missed opportunity.”
In Iowa, the commission’s dormancy is stalemating the debate over whether Schultz is misusing federal Help America Vote Act funds to pay to investigate cases of alleged fraud.
Schultz signed an agreement in 2012 with the Department of Public Safety for it to investigate potential fraud, committing up to $140,000 per year.
Democrats say the investigation is a waste of money, and Courtney has been among the most critical.