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April 7, 2014

Civic Organizations Call on Congress to Restore Election Assistance Commission to Full Strength

Senate Rules and Administration Committee Must Move Forward With Confirmation of Commissioners

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A diverse coalition of 16 civil rights, voting rights and campaign finance groups today called on congressional leaders to recommend two Republicans for the president to nominate to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Two Democrats already have been nominated. The groups urge the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration to move ahead with the confirmation process of these nominees.

The Election Assistance Commission (EAC) was created by Congress under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 to help prevent meltdowns of our electoral process as occurred in the 2000 presidential election. The EAC is an independent, bipartisan federal commission charged with making our elections run smoothly. But the agency has foundered in recent years because all four seats of the commission have been left vacant.

On Wednesday, the Senate Rules and Administration Committee will hold a hearing on two Democratic nominees – Thomas Hicks and Myrna Perez – who have been awaiting confirmation since March 2010 and 2011, respectively. Congressional Republican leaders also should offer two equally capable nominees. And the Senate needs to move forward expeditiously with the confirmation process.

As the coalition letter to the Senate Rules Committee notes:

“The Election Assistance Commission (EAC) was created by Congress under the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 to help prevent meltdowns of our electoral process like the embarrassing episode experienced in the 2000 presidential election. The EAC is an independent, bipartisan federal commission charged with making our elections run smoothly. … This important work is now being gravely undermined by the inability of congressional leaders in the House and Senate to agree on a full slate of nominees to the Commission and the reluctance of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee to move forward with the confirmation process.”

The organizations calling for Congress to restore the EAC include: American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC); Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ); Campaign Legal Center; Carlin Meyer, Prof. & Director, Diane Abbey Law Center for Children and Families, New York Law School; Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW); Common Cause; Communications Workers of America (CWA); Democracy 21; Demos; FairVote; Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF); NAACP; National Disability Rights Network; Prison Policy Initiative; Project Vote; and Public Citizen.

The letter concludes:

“We can end the long lines at the polls. We can develop modern voting machines that work. And we can learn from state and local election experiences how to make elections and voting an efficient part of our democracy. To do so, we need an Election Assistance Commission that is fully staffed and operational.”

The organizations call upon congressional leaders, the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, and the Senate to take all necessary steps to restore the Election Assistance Commission to its full strength.

Read the letter (PDF).

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