The Presidential Commission on Election Administration convened for the first time last Friday in preparation for its first public hearing this week in Miami. Much of the coverage of the Commission has focused on the unlikelihood that its deliberations will yield any kind of federal legislative activity, leading some to wonder what the body will be able to accomplish. But in many ways, that lack of legislative urgency should be an asset to the Commission, especially since the topics the group has been tasked with covering lie outside the “hot button” issues that have consumed the debate over the last several years.
What the Commission is seeking to do is focus attention on those smaller, less controversial (but far more important) areas that usually have a real impact on Election Day. As I’ve said to people privately, the Commission’s task is akin to convincing the field to eat its vegetables by focusing on the nuts-and-bolts aspects of elections like capacity and polling place management that don’t usually get the headlines.