Myrna Perez and Thomas Hicks again sat before a pair of U.S. senators Wednesday for a hearing on their presidential nominations to the Election Assistance Commission. Their session, however, morphed into a debate on whether this little-known and decidedly bedraggled commission — created by Congress in 2002 to help prevent voting meltdowns like those experienced during the 2000 presidential election — should exist at all. “The Election Assistance Commission has fulfilled its purpose and should be eliminated,” declared Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, the ranking member of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, which conducted the hearing. He quickly added: “None of my comments are a reflection of the nominees.” Reflection or not, the nominees find themselves in a political purgatory and legislative limbo soupy as any Congress is stirring.
Consider that Hicks, Democratic senior elections counsel for Congress’ Committee on House Administration, and Perez, deputy director of the Brennen Center for Justice’s Democracy Program at the New York University School of Law, have been waiting for senators to confirm them since their initialnominations in early 2010 and early 2011, respectively.
Both are Democrats. Both have previously testified at a Senate Rules and Administration Committee hearing. And both say they’ve slogged along because they firmly believe the EAC should exist as an independent, bipartisan body that in large part tests and certifies voting equipment and serves as “national clearinghouse and resource” for election administration.
“Elections don’t allow for do-overs. Above all else, we must always uphold the public’s trust and ensure confidence in the process,” Hicks told Roberts and Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, during his testimony before them.
“The EAC, if operating well, is a valuable resource to election administrators because of its nationwide scope, targeted focus and expressly delineated responsibilities,” Perez said during her testimony.