A decade after Florida’s hanging chads became a national joke and George W. Bush‘s disputed victory became a part of American history, the House voted to save the commission created to ensure that such an electoral debacle would never happen again.
Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, D-San Antonio, was a leader of forces trying to save the Election Assistance Commission from the scrap heap of history. Those pushing the bill to kill the commission didn’t have the supermajority needed to succeed, and, on a largely party-line vote, Gonzalez and other House Democrats saved the remnant of the Bush v. Gore era.
Although originally planned as a five-year, temporary commission, Congress continued to fund the agency amid praise for its mission from election reformers.
“The past few years have seen EAC’s operations steadily improving, as reflected in the praise we’ve heard from state and local election officials,” Gonzalez said. “We should not cast aside EAC’s valuable contributions to ensuring fair and efficient elections and protecting the constitutionally protected right to vote.”
Congress created the EAC in response to voting machine and ballot confusion in the 2000 presidential election. The commission was given the Federal Election Committee‘s task of overseeing the voting system to avoid similar issues in the future.
This bill, HR672, would return that responsibility to the FEC and create a review board to develop voluntary voting system guidelines. Many of the EAC’s other duties — including providing voting materials in different languages and relaying best practices among election officials — would end with the agency’s demise.