Obama creates panel to recommend state election law changes

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
Font Size:

The White House announced Thursday the formation of a nine-seat Presidential Commission on Election Administration tasked with recommending changes to states’ election laws by the end of September.

“The Commission shall identify best practices and otherwise make recommendations to promote the efficient administration of elections in order to ensure that all eligible voters have the opportunity to cast their ballots without undue delay, and to improve the experience of voters facing other obstacles,” said Obama’s executive order, issued March 28.

State elections are conducted by states, usually under state laws. However, the federal Congress has the constitutional authority to “any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.”

Obama’s panel does not have the legal ability to rewrite state election laws, but its recommendations could help Obama’s appointees at the Department of Justice ask friendly judges to impose changes on states.

Democratic activists have repeatedly called for changes to increase voter registration, to extend voting periods, to curb voter-identification rules and to help apparently non-political groups boost turnout by voters.

The executive order said the panel should consider changes to almost all portions of the state’s voting system.

The changes could include “the number, location, management, operation, and design of polling places … the training, recruitment, and number of poll workers … the efficient management of voter rolls and poll books … voting machine capacity and technology … voter education … processing provisional ballots in the polling place on Election Day … the administration of absentee ballot programs … [and] other issues related to the efficient administration of elections that the Co-Chairs agree are necessary and appropriate to the Commission’s work.”

Follow Neil on Twitter