The Senate Should Move Election Assistance Commission Nominees Forward Before Shutting Its Doors

Washington, DC – While heartened by reports that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is planning to make significant progress on pending nominations before shuttering the Senate of the 113th Congress, the Fix the Senate Now coalition calls on Senators to ensure that nominees to the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) are included in any package of nominations moving forward.   

As we noted earlier this week, Senate Democrats should not reward Republicans’ persistent obstruction by ending this Senate until they have significantly reduced the record number of approximately 130 nominees still pending on the Executive Calendar. As Burgess Everett of Politico reports, Senate Democrats agree and are planning to move a package of nominees forward. As Everett writes, “If they hold their caucus together, Democrats can unilaterally prevail and approve Vivek Murthy to be surgeon general, Sarah Saldana to lead Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, Carolyn Colvin to be Social Security administrator as well as nine remaining judicial nominees.” Everett quotes Senate Majority Leader Reid saying, “I’ve given a list to Republicans. It’s up to them to decide how long we stay.”

Here’s why the EAC should be included in any package of nominations moving forward: currently, the EAC does not have a single commissioner in place, so there is no quorum to make any decisions on matters of policy, although it still has a staff in place.

Created in 2002 to avoid another election like the debacles of 2000, the EAC is the only federal agency tasked with ensuring modern and functional elections in our country. One of the pending EAC nominees, Thomas Hicks, was first nominated to serve in April 2010 – meaning that he is the longest-lasting unconfirmed nominee during the Obama administration.

The Commission has been toothless due to its lack of a quorum caused by Senate Republicans’ strategy of mass-obstruction.  And as the bipartisan election commission chaired by Republican lawyer Ben Ginsberg and Democratic lawyer Bob Bauer noted in a report on the state of the American voting experience, “Without a fully functioning EAC to adopt the new standards, many new technologies that might better serve local election administrators are not being brought to the marketplace.” The report explained that this will exacerbate an “impending crisis in voting technology.”

This fall, 35 organizations signed onto a letter to Senate leaders highlighting the importance of a fully-functional EAC.


For more information or to interview leaders from the Fix the Senate Now coalition, contact Michael Earls at media@fixthesenatenow.org

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