President Obama warned recently that the “gridlock [which] reigns” in Washington could become “a self-fulfilling prophesy” of cynicism and dysfunction if voters fail to hold politicians accountable at the polls. That same gridlock could make it harder for Americans to vote and have their ballots counted as cast. In a study released last week, Common Cause found that a record number of pending executive and independent agency nominations are stalled on the Senate floor, despite filibuster reform that ended the 60-vote rule for most nominations. The person waiting the longest for a vote is Thomas Hicks, an Obama nominee for the Election Assistance Commission (“EAC”). His nomination has been pending for over four years – since April 2010. Waiting the third longest (over three years) is Myrna Pérez, also to serve on the EAC. This is no accident. It’s part of a larger strategy of obstructing action on the president’s executive nominations. When the report went to print last week, 115 executive and independent agency nominees were pending on the floor. At this point in President George W. Bush’s administration, only 34 were pending on the Senate floor. Under President Clinton, there were just 12. To the Senate’s shame, the EAC has not had a single commissioner since 2011. It should have four, with no more than two from any one political party.
Congress set up the EAC as part of the Help America Vote Act in 2002 so that a Florida-style debacle like the one that marred the 2000 election would never again embarrass the country. The commission is a resource to voters and election administrators in the 8,000 local jurisdictions responsible for running elections. It operates a program to test and certify voting machines, publishes important research and well-regarded surveys on election administration, trains local election officials in best practices, reports to Congress on the implementation of the motor voter law, and serves as a clearinghouse for election administration-related information, among other tasks.
The ongoing absence of EAC commissioners hinders the agency when Americans need it most. Without commissioners, the EAC cannot hold public meetings, adopt new policies, or issue advisory opinions. Its most recent voting system guidelines were adopted in 2005 – several lifetimes ago when it comes to technology. The absence of EAC commissioners is part of why so many jurisdictions ran the 2012 election with outdated, broken voting machines and why so many voters waited in line for hours to cast their ballots.
Full Article: Senate gridlock and voting | TheHill