President Obama has established a new bipartisan commission on election administration, something he promised to do in his Feb. 12 State of the Union address. He signed an executive order Thursday making it official. The Presidential Commission on Election Administration is being headed by two longtime Washington attorneys, Bob Bauer and Ben Ginsberg. Bauer was general counsel to the president’s re-election campaign and is also Obama’s former White House counsel. Ginsberg was national counsel to Republican Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign and also to the Bush-Cheney presidential campaigns.
According to White House spokesman Josh Earnest, the commission will look at ways to shorten lines at the polls and to “promote the efficient conduct of elections.” The panel has been directed to submit a final report within six months of its first public meeting. Earnest did not know when that first meeting would be held.
The president’s executive order says the commission will have no more than nine members and will look at things such as polling place design, poll worker training and recruitment, and voting technology.
A number of election experts have expressed doubts that the panel will have much impact because the goals are modest. Earnest said the commission’s final report is “intended to serve as a best practices guide for state and local election officials to improve voters’ experience at the polls under their existing election laws.” The panel’s recommendations will be nonbinding.