President Obama issued an executive order this afternoon establishing a Presidential Commission on Election Administration.
The nine-member commission, all appointed by the president, will be tasked with promoting “the efficient administration of Federal elections and to improve the experience of all voters.”
Members “shall be drawn from among distinguished individuals with knowledge about or experience in the administration of State or local elections, as well as representatives of successful customer service-oriented businesses, and any other individuals with knowledge or experience determined by the President to be of value to the Commission.”
Two members will be selected by Obama to co-chair the commission. Members won’t have salaries but will be able to claim travel expenses.
“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 in casting their ballots, such as members of the military, overseas voters, voters with disabilities, and voters with limited English proficiency,” the executive order states.
The panel will have to submit a report with recommendations to Obama within six months of its first meeting. Thirty days after that report is in, the commission will be disbanded.
Democrats lauded the executive order.
“Making it harder for citizens to vote is a violation of their civil rights,” Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said. “The 2012 elections were a wakeup call. All over the country, in red states and blue states, Americans saw their fundamental right to vote eroded by exceptionally long lines, confusing rules and voting machine malfunctions. President Obama today is following through on his promise to confront this widespread voter disenfranchisement by convening a bipartisan commission to develop recommendations for preventing it from ever happening again.”
“I look forward to continue working with a true American hero and Civil Rights leader Congressman John Lewis and other leaders to pass our legislation to ensure voting is easy and accessible, and every American’s voice is heard,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). “I thank President Obama for his commitment to working with us to achieve this moral imperative.”