State lawmakers’ reactions to President Barack Obama’s announcement Tuesday night of a new bipartisan voting commission split along party lines. The announcement of the election commission during the State of the Union address was greeted positively by Democratic state lawmakers, who see the panel as a way to generate ideas to improve state and local election administration. However, Republicans said the panel violates the 10th Amendment, noting that elections are a function of state government and not a place for federal officials. Obama announced that the commission, to be co-chaired by top attorneys from his and Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaigns, would develop “common-sense, non-partisan solutions” to reduce wait times and improve voting experiences.
“I commend the president for convening a nonpartisan commission to review our election procedures,” North Dakota Assistant House Minority Leader Corey Mock (D-Grand Forks) told The Huffington Post. “It is a fine use of time and resources. That is something that all Americans should be proud of.”
But Wyoming state Rep. Dan Zwonitzer (R-Cheyenne) told HuffPost that there’s no need for such a commission. Standing by the federalism argument, he said the federal government has “enough of their own problems to worry about” and that election policy is a state-level issue. “Each state is responsible for their voting procedures, and I don’t believe a national commission is needed to make recommendations to states,” he said.
Zwonitzer noted that each state knows its history of election administration and what works in its environment. Elections in Wyoming have worked well and would not need recommendations from a federal commission, he said. At the same time, states that have had long lines and other problems could develop solutions, he said.