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President's Election Commission: The Height of Political Grandstanding

by Shawn M. Griffiths, published

On Wednesday, January 22, members of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration met with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to discuss their findings after months of hearing about election administration concerns across the United States.

You can read the commission's complete report here.

“I think all of us share the belief that, regardless of party affiliation, that our democracy demands that our citizens can participate in a smooth and effective way,” Obama said.

Take note that the president did not use the word "meaningful." Members of the election panel have said that their purpose was not to address possible reforms that could be made to the election process, but only administrative changes, which while helpful, do not do anything to meaningfully improve elections in the United States.

The findings of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration are what one may expect from a bipartisan commission. Members could agree on increasing polling locations and expanding early voting, because the biggest problem with elections in this country, according to the commission, is long lines. In truth, they only focused on the things that made news coverage during the 2012 elections.

Some pages in the commission's report were recommendations that federal laws should actually be enforced without detailing how the federal government may best assure its laws are adequately administered by the states.

If someone thinks the biggest problem facing elections today is long lines at polling locations, it shows just how dense the bubble they live in truly is.

How about the millions of voters nationwide who are denied meaningful participation in the electoral process? How about third party and independent candidates who are denied not only fair access to the ballot, but a chance to make their voices heard without being drowned out by the major parties? How about partisan redistricting which denies voters adequate representation in Congress and other elected offices?

Nope. Long Lines. That should be our primary focus.

By simply saying that the only focus of the commission is administration of elections and not a comprehensive look at how elections can be improved to assure greater representation and meaningful participation for voters and candidates, the Obama administration revealed the small commitment it has to actually improve elections. It was a chance for members of both parties to show the media, "hey look, we can agree changes need to be made and laws actually need to be enforced."

It is the height of political grandstanding.

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