We know little about President Barack Obama’s new Commission on Election Administration except for its structure, as outlined in the executive order that explains its task is to improve voting in America, and the names of its two appointed co-chairs: Obama’s former counsel Bob Bauer and Republican attorney Ben Ginsberg, who worked for Mitt Romney. But while it has yet to explain its methodology or get together a full staff (the executive order directs that no more than nine members are to be appointed) the commission—an idea born on election night 2012 when Obama declared we “have to fix” long lines at the polls—is about to get to work. Steve Croley, deputy White House counsel, told Yahoo News the White House is gearing up to announce the committee’s full roster next month and set the group to work. The committee, he said, will be a mix of individuals including “several people who basically run elections for a living” at the state, county or local levels, in addition to those working on the private side. No other details were offered about commissioners.
The commission, not the White House, will set the agenda, Croley added. And part of its work will include significant outreach to state and local election officials and administrators, academics and others experienced in elections. A report will be given to the president six months from its first meeting on “how do we improve the experience of voting,” Croley said.
Funds and housekeeping for all presidential commissions are handled through the General Services Administration, but no money was requested for the commission in the president’s proposal or in GSA’s budget request. Croley said that the commission is expected to be very low budget.
… Per the executive order creating the committee, the commission is supposed to examine voting problems highlighted in the 2012 election, and specifically examine potential voting obstacles to members of the military, overseas voters, voters with disabilities and voters “with limited English proficiency.” Several potential areas of study are outlined in the executive order—including training of polling workers, the operation of polling places and voting machines, ballot simplicity, and overseas balloting—but these are listed merely as suggestions.