President Urged to Protect Voting Rights
Appoint Commissioners to Elections Panel
Washington, DC -- Major civil rights and voting rights organizations
have called on President Obama
to act quickly in appointing new commissioners to the Election
Assistance Commission, which is charged with improving the
administration of the nation’s elections.
“We call on the
President to step up to this challenge,” said Elisabeth MacNamara,
President of the League of Women Voters of the United States.
“These essential positions have been empty for an unacceptably long
time,” according to the groups, which make up the Voting Rights Task
Force of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.
appoint commissioners … risks reducing the voting and civil rights of
our citizens -- rights for which many have given their lives,” they
Due to two vacancies on the four-member commission, the EAC has been
unable to take any official action since January. One of those
has been empty for nearly two years. With one commissioner
expired term, the President must make three appointments, which will be
subject to Senate confirmation.
“As we rapidly approach the 2012 elections, the EAC needs a full
complement of commissioners,” the groups said. Organizations
joining the letter
to the President include the American Association of People with
Disabilities, Common Cause, Demos, Fair Elections Legal Network,
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, League of Women Voters
of the United States, National Urban League, NAACP Legal Defense and
Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), Project Vote, and the Leadership
Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
“The Commission is
charged with developing standards for voting systems, and this
precedent-setting work has been recognized by nations around the world.
The EAC’s certification program is helping state and local
to save money,” the organizations said in their letter.
“The Commission plays a major role in collecting accurate and
comparable election data. With our nation’s complex and diversified
election administration system, central data collection is essential if
we are going to improve our citizens’ trust and confidence in election
results,” they maintained.
“The EAC has played a central role in improving the accessibility of
voting for the country’s more than 37 million voters with disabilities.
We still have a way to go … to make voting accessible. The
leadership is essential to continuing the effort to offer all Americans
the right to vote privately and independently,” the groups said.
“The Commission develops and fosters the training and organization of
our nation’s more than 8,000 election administrators. Through its
working committees and convening of robust dialog among advocates,
manufacturers and administrators, the Commission is improving the
administration of elections. The EAC’s award-winning web page has
become the ‘go to’ site for election administrators, advocates, and
academics,” the letter said.
In urging the President to fulfill his responsibility to appoint
commissioners, the organizations said that the “EAC does valuable work
to ensure the reliability and trustworthiness of our nation’s election
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The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization,
encourages informed and active participation in government, works to
increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences
public policy through education and advocacy.