President Obama signed an executive order Thursday creating the Presidential Commission on Election Administration, a panel tasked with formulating suggestions on how to cut down on long lines to vote and other problems that plagued voters in 2012. Obama announced plans to launch the effort — co-chaired by lawyers Bob Bauer and Ben Ginsberg who represented the Obama and Romney campaigns, respectively, during the 2012 election — during his State of the Union address. But the White House hadn’t offered details on how the commission would work until Thursday. The order directs the nine-member panel to produce a report for Obama within six months of its first public meeting that will “identify best practices and otherwise make recommendations to promote the efficient administration of elections in order to ensure that all eligible voters have the opportunity to cast their ballots without undue delay, and to improve the experience of voters facing other obstacles in casting their ballots, such as members of the military, overseas voters, voters with disabilities, and voters with limited English proficiency.”
The panel will have a staff and the General Services Administration will provide administrative services, equipment and other support. A White House official had no other information to provide about who will serve on the commission or its staff. The first version of the order sent to reporters by the White House said the commission would have an executive director, but the draft has since been corrected to say that the panel will have a staff but no executive director.
The presidential commission joins another federal panel tasked with monitoring elections, the Election Assistance Commission, which was created by the Help America Vote Act, Congress’s effort to fix some of the voting problems encountered during the 2000 presidential election. Republicans have since let the EAC languish, refusing to appoint members and calling for the panel to be dissolved. The White House has not directly addressed the potential for duplication between the two panels, though Obama’s order does specify that the work of his commission “shall be informed by, and shall strive to avoid duplicating, the efforts of other governmental entities.”
Earlier Thursday, principal deputy press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that, in addition to the measures that will be put forward by the commission, the president continues to support legislation from Congress to make it easier to register to vote and improve access to voting.