On Saturday, Barack Obama was accused of nationalizing U.S. elections for Democratic partisan advantage through the president’s issuance of a new executive order on the electoral process.
A March 30 Breitbart report cites several critics of the “Presidential Commission of Election Administration” in which Obama will have the unilateral authority to appoint up to nine commission members with the “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.”
On Thursday, the White House issued to the general public details of Obama’s executive order.
Opponents argue that due to Obama’s unchecked power to appoint electoral overseers, the commission will be composed of progressives, union bosses, and academics with a bias towards Democratic and liberal candidates, particularly at the state and local level.
Here is Section 2 of Obama’s order:
Sec. 2. Membership. (a) The Commission shall be composed of not more than nine members appointed by the President.
Some opponents are criticizing the president for prioritizing local elections over the economy with the latter featuring 8 percent unemployment and nearly 50 million Americans relying on food stamps. In January 2013, Barack Obama decided to permanently shut down his jobs council after its charter had expired.
Thursday’s executive order was announced a year before what is expected to be a highly contentious 2014 mid-term elections. Next year, conservatives are likely to contest Democrats for multitudes of congressional and gubernatorial seats. The new commission’s emphasis on local elections are creating suspicions on the president’s intentions.
In December, Obama held a 55 percent approval rating which has since gone down 8 percentage points to 47 percent as of March 30, according to Gallup and Pew Research.
Soon after the White House’s announcement, some elections experts blasted the president’s plan. Former Department of Justice official J. Christian Adams said that the Obama administration may have violated federal laws by not establishing voter-assistance offices on military bases despite congress having sent $75 million to the Pentagon to make sure all U.S. troops can vote.
Most service members vote for Republicans, and many in the military supported Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s run for office.
In contrast, when members of the Black Panther Party were accused of intimidating voters at polling booths during the 2008 and 2012 elections, charges were dropped on most suspects by Obama’s Justice Department. Leaked internal memos have since indicated that administration officials refused to enforce voting rights laws because the perpetrators themselves were black political activists.
Here is Section 3 of Obama’s new executive order on elections:
Sec. 3. Mission. (a) 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.
In doing so, the Commission shall consider as appropriate:
(i) the number, location, management, operation, and design of polling places;
(ii) the training, recruitment, and number of poll workers;
(iii) voting accessibility for uniformed and overseas voters;
(iv) the efficient management of voter rolls and poll books;
(v) voting machine capacity and technology;
(vi) ballot simplicity and voter education;
(vii) voting accessibility for individuals with disabilities, limited English proficiency, and other special needs;
(viii) management of issuing and processing provisional ballots in the polling place on Election Day;
(ix) the issues presented by the administration of absentee ballot programs;
(x) the adequacy of contingency plans for natural disasters and other emergencies that may disrupt elections; and
(xi) other issues related to the efficient administration of elections that the Co-Chairs agree are necessary and appropriate to the Commission’s work.
(b) The Commission shall be advisory in nature and shall submit a final report to the President within 6 months of the date of the Commission’s first public meeting.