Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) is calling on Republican leaders in Congress to recommend nominees to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
Created in the wake of the Supreme Court’s controversial Bush v. Gore decision that ended the Florida recount and sent George W. Bush to the White House, the commission is supposed to have two Republican-recommend and two Democratic-recommended commissioners. It was established under the Help America Vote Act, signed into law by Bush in 2002.
But its original bipartisan spirit eroded under pressure from activist conservatives who believed Republican Commissioner Paul DeGregorio wasn’t “Republican enough,” according to a report in Roll Call. Former Bush Civil Rights Division official Hans Von Spakovsky, a leader in the movement to establish voter ID laws in states that Democrats say are designed to suppress their voters, was fingered as the ringleader to oust DeGregorio, Roll Call reported.
Two Democratic nominees are awaiting action before the Senate Rules Committee, Boxer said in her letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio.) But Republicans have not acted in more than a year to fill their slots, Boxer said.
The election commission currently has no commissioners and no executive director, and has not held a public meeting since 2011, Boxer wrote.
She called the current state of the commission unacceptable given reports of long lines at the polls on Nov. 6 in Florida, Ohio and Virginia, along with reports of malfunctioning voting machines and other problems. Liberal commentators accused Republican secretaries of state of creating the long lines by reducing early voting and through other measures, in order to make it harder for working class and elderly people to vote.
“I believe the dysfunction we witnessed may have been reduced had this Commission been fully staffed and operational,” Boxer wrote.
Boxer’s letter comes days after Justice Department Civil Rights Division chief Tom Perez gave a speech saying its time to fix the rampant voting problems and correct the perception that elected state officials operate the polls in a partisan manner.