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Scarcely any huzzahs can be found amid the raspberries for the new non-partisan election commission President Barack Obama announced in his State of the Union address Tuesday. There has been some lukewarm support from the NAACP and the Brennan Center on Justice. But critics wonder not only what can be expected from a commission that won't be recommending legislation, but also just how non-partisan a commission can be that is co-chaired by two of the most partisan behind-the-scenes guys in the politics business.

One of those guys, Ben Ginsberg, has disgraced himself with various voting shenanigans, including the 2000 Florida recount, and was fired from the Bush-Cheney campaign after his work for the John Kerry-smearing Swift Boat organization. The other co-chair is Bob Bauer, who has served both as White House general counsel and general counsel for the Obama for America campaign team. He fought to restore early voting in Ohio in 2012.

Yet you'd think there was only the mildest dissent over the commission proposal based on the reporting of Jeff Zeleny at The New York Times.

In fact, opposition to the Bauer-Ginsberg Commission and skepticism over its being able to accomplish much of anything is widespread. Even folks like Rick Hasen of the acclaimed ElectionLawBlog, who thinks the commission "is good news, and a step forward" doubts that it will have much "practical effect on fixing our broken election system."

Many Republican lawmakers oppose the commission, claim it violates the 10th Amendment because elections are the province of state governments.

Elizabeth MacNamara, president of the nation's venerable League of Women Voters, founded in 1920 six months before the Nineteenth Amendment gave women the right to vote nationwide, was especially critical:

"He is essentially kicking the can down the road by appointing a commission," MacNamara told HuffPost Live. "Every four years we go through this. Every four years we know that there are going to be long lines. So we are disappointed that rather than taking bold action, the president has decided to appoint a commission instead."

[She said] that the League has put forward four priorities it would like to see the president address: 1) making sure voters have permanent and portable registration within their states; 2) establishing secure online voter registration; 3) setting standards for early voting; and 4) ensuring we have equitable distribution of polling places.

Some of these can be accomplished by executive action, she said. Instead there will be five more commissioners appointed and at least six months of meetings and teleconferences.

A lot of time and per diems could be saved if commissioners read and adopted the recommendations put together by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The committee's 144-page report: Our Broken Election System and How to Repair It covers all the relevant ground quite thoroughly.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Fri Feb 15, 2013 at 09:55 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  You'd think that with over 200 years experience, (4+ / 0-)

    we would have the bugs worked out of the voting process nationwide by now. What a joke.

    •  They aren't bugs (0+ / 0-)

      They're features.
      We don't need a stupid commission to tell us that the reason for long lines and other voting problems is republicans don't want the "wrong" people to vote. It isn't a mystery that needs to be solved.
      Want to fix voting problems? Get rid of the fucking republicans!

      +++ The law is a weapon used to bludgeon us peasants into submission. It is not to be applied to the monied elite.

      by cybersaur on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 08:03:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Newt Gingrich defined modern Republican tactics... (7+ / 0-)

    as savage eye-gouging and groin-kicking, pushing granny down the basement stairs....whatever it takes to win. Making it impossible for the opposition to vote is perfect, because every Democratic voter who never gets to complete a ballot is as good as another Republican vote.

    Hence any response that doesn't include clearly identifying and effectively correcting such despicable anti-democratic (small-d) behavior on the part of the Republicans is a complete and utter waste of time.

  •  With Ben the Gins as the GOP co-chair, (6+ / 0-)

    I, quite frankly, would be shocked if they accomplished anything.  If ever there was a shill for the partisan denial of voting rights, it is him.

  •  I can save them some trouble (4+ / 0-)

    All we need is a paper ballot in every precinct.  Citizens can fill the paper ballot out before they get to the precinct and have it scanned after checking in with the poll workers.  The paper ballot would then be saved in case the scanner jams or malfunctions.  
    Scanned paper is used all the time and has been proved very reliable.  Consider just about every high school and college test nowadays uses an optically scanned paper answer sheet.
    That will get rid of all the stupid crap the Republicans pulled last year with super long ballots and multiple-page scanning and rigged electronic voting machines.  
    Just a simple paper ballot that can be scanned by an optical reader.   Show up, check in, scan, and you're done.  

  •  Rights are seldom given (8+ / 0-)

    they are usually taken.  I don't think a commission co-led by the guy who organized the Brooks Brothers riot back in 2000 is going to come up with any response other than to delay and continue blocking voters.  

    “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

    by ivorybill on Fri Feb 15, 2013 at 02:04:01 PM PST

  •  No one wants to change anything. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, Horace Boothroyd III

    The system as it is works just fine for them.

    The thing about quotes on the internet is you cannot confirm their validity. ~Abraham Lincoln

    by raboof on Fri Feb 15, 2013 at 07:07:30 PM PST

  •  Not the (0+ / 0-)

    Bauer- Ginsberg I was thinking of.

    "Til you're so fucking crazy you can't follow their rules" John Lennon - Working Class Hero

    by Horace Boothroyd III on Fri Feb 15, 2013 at 07:18:49 PM PST

  •  A "states" problem (0+ / 0-)

    Plenty of states have no problem counting their votes and don't have long lines for voting.  

    Instead of announcing this as a national problem, which takes the onus off the incompetent states, what needs to be discussed is what works and why it isn't already being done everywhere.

    Oregon has a total mail-in system.  NO LINES, NO LINES!!!!!!

    Let's discuss how the other states can emulate this.  The size of a state doesn't matter.  Any state can do a mail in system and it would probably be cheaper too!  

    So, please, no more commissions.  We already know what works.  Lets just do it!!!!!!!

    •  Equal Protection (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cybersaur, Meteor Blades

      The right HATES the 14th Amendment.

      All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
      It is unequal that some wait minutes to vote while some wait hours.

      The wolfpack eats venison. The lone wolf eats mice.

      by A Citizen on Fri Feb 15, 2013 at 08:55:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  There is a problem with your suggestion (0+ / 0-)

      You assume that the powers that be within the states that have voting problems actually want to fix those issues. They don't. They intentionally created the voting problems for the express purpose of keeping people from voting!
      Working as intended!
      We know what works. The problem is republicans don't want a working voting system. They just want to win and to do so by any means necessary.

      +++ The law is a weapon used to bludgeon us peasants into submission. It is not to be applied to the monied elite.

      by cybersaur on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 08:08:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  nonpartisan (0+ / 0-)

    i just assumed it was so effin' bipartisan it buried the needle all the way around to null.

    If only Michael Phelps hadn't smoked that pot...imagine what he could have accomplished with motivation and good lung capacity.

    by papa monzano on Fri Feb 15, 2013 at 07:24:57 PM PST

  •  Typical PBO -- strong rhetoric followed by (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    I Lurked For Years

    half-assed action at best.  The classic DC ploy for doing nothing is one thing, but a commission co-chaired by a virulent enemy of full, fair, and easy voting?  Jaysus wept!

  •  Yes, that's definitely a punt (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dclawyer06, Zinman, cybersaur, PorridgeGun

    Putting Ben Ginsberg on the commission. Was Orly Taitz unavailable?

    -7.75, -8.10; . . . Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall (h/t cooper888)

    by Dave in Northridge on Fri Feb 15, 2013 at 07:34:53 PM PST

    •  Yea, we need more than a commission... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Zinman, cybersaur, PorridgeGun

      We need legislation, on the state and national level.
      And we need courts willing to uphold our Constitutional rights.

      Having said that, I've gotta say how deeply moved I was by the democratic voters' reax to the naked attempts to steal the election. I tip my hat to those willing to wait in line for 8 hours---often at considerable personal expense.

      And I admire those Floridians who stayed in line to vote even after the election had been called for President Obama.
      No more stolen elections, no more tricks.

  •  IF we're going to address these in Federal ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ... legislation (and the critics are right - elections, even for Federal offices, are governed to a significant extent by state law), anything other than a truly bipartisan effort is doomed to fail.

    Bipartisan efforts may fail, too. But the likelihood increases that they will not be blinked away by appointing as co-chair the lawyer for your last opponent's last campaign.

    Yes, there are plenty of studies and think tank white papers on the subject. The results of which have been ... er ...

    I think this committee's work can be (1) a platform for proposals that will have to be heard, with (2) attendant publicity to keep the issue alive outside election season. And then, an election will follow where (3) more attention can be focused on election frauds of various kinds because of the light already cast upon the territory. (4) It will also build an official record of abuses and their disproportionate impact on who actually gets to vote, useful in litigation that will surely take place over state-level suppression laws, regulations and tactics whether legislation passes or not.

    Those are not nothing. They are a lot better than we were likely to have if, say, Democrats put reforms into a bill and tried to get filibuster-proof support for it.

    2014 IS COMING. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

    by TRPChicago on Fri Feb 15, 2013 at 07:37:46 PM PST

  •  Anything with Ben Ginsberg involved is suspect. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cybersaur, PorridgeGun

    You can't make this stuff up.

    by David54 on Fri Feb 15, 2013 at 07:41:38 PM PST

  •  There are times when President Obama's moves to (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Zinman, PorridgeGun

    appease his opponents infuriates me. This is one of them.   I'm not privy to all the facts

  •  this proposal, and this "commission" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and this silly, bullshit approach to a really serious crisis in American democracy, is what should be inscribed upon Obama's tombstone when he leaves this world.

    He is not a serious person.

    Oregon:'s cold. But it's a damp cold.

    by Keith930 on Fri Feb 15, 2013 at 07:48:56 PM PST

  •  if the fascist gop (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    is able to continue to suppress the vote of the constituents that vote for their opposition eventually they will find a way to rig elections so that they win the majority of the time, our democracy can not afford this trend to continue and the dems must get some backbone and stop this or they will not remain in office for long and won't deserve to.

    •  The republicans have stopped trying... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      shaharazade, cybersaur

      to win elections by selling their ideas. Instead they try to steal them by deceiving, disenfranchising and intimidating anyone likely to support dems.

      But that tactic is losing steam as voters grow more savvy and demographic changes take root and doom their party---which is built on racism and xenophobia.

      Rather than update their message-that's too retro, apparently- the GoOpers are souring on the democratic process itself. That's why Romney suggested Obama won by promising gifts-it's a message to the lizard brains that electoral victory is impossible so long as the democrats buy off the (growing) population of "scareh brown peeple!"

      It's a lie, but it's one they believe. It fits perfectly in their paranoid worldview.

      That's why we need to be vigilant to the threat of right-wing domestic terrorism. If the GOP can't win elections, or even steal them then some will abandon the political process and resort to thuggery.

  •  Um... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Citizen

    We already know how to fix voting in the USA. Just do what you do for the RICH precincts in the POOR precincts. Done. What's the committee for?

    it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses

    by Addison on Fri Feb 15, 2013 at 08:02:42 PM PST

    •  voting (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Make sure there are plenty of polling places, plenty of voting booths, and stop frivolous challenges.

      These aren't at all complicated. In Minneapolis, we have around 130 polling places and a population of around 350,000 people. Short lines, you're in and out quickly. This can be done all over the country.

      We need no commission. We know the problems, and we know how to fix them.

      The wolfpack eats venison. The lone wolf eats mice.

      by A Citizen on Fri Feb 15, 2013 at 09:00:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly... (0+ / 0-)

        ...whether this is a sham designed to come to a pre-determined good end, or a sham designed to come to nothing, I'm not sure. But it's a sham. The problems and their solutions are well-known and easily solvable.

        it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses

        by Addison on Fri Feb 15, 2013 at 09:12:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Obama's appointment of Ginsburg, who is the (4+ / 0-)

    lowest form of political life, just about proves he's not serious about the commission.  It's theater and, sadly, Obama used a courageous 102 year old woman as a prop in his play.

    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

    by accumbens on Fri Feb 15, 2013 at 08:15:54 PM PST

  •  And no one is talking about... (0+ / 0-)

    getting rid of the archaic and broken Electoral College.

    We need a simple, straightforward Popular Vote.

    It's weird hearing things like "the EC has only gotten it wrong three times in history".

    That's three times too many.

    How many times is "too many" for the leader of the most powerful nation on Earth to gain the office while receiving less votes than the other candidate?

    This is an issue that demands real leadership.  And we're not getting it from anyone.  Which is especially shameful for Dems considering 2000, and the resulting disaster of the Bush "presidency".

    What's wrong under Republicans is still wrong under Democrats.

    by gila on Fri Feb 15, 2013 at 08:25:21 PM PST

    •  How many dems feel the Bush presidency (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      was a disaster? My memory is that a lot of democrats in Washington supported (though not all of course) the tax cuts, no child left behind, the patriot act, the war on terror, afghanistan, iraq, warrantless surveillance, extraordinary rendition, and on and on...why do you think it is you don't see vocal support from democratic leadership on ending the electoral college?

      "Today is who you are" - my wife

      by I Lurked For Years on Fri Feb 15, 2013 at 10:10:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ginsberg is a scumbag Right Winger. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cybersaur, PorridgeGun

    He was caught illegally representing the Bush campaign at the same time he was representing outside supporters in 2001. He agreed to drop out of the Bush crowd so he could continue running the "stop the vote" pricks.
    He has no ambition to make voting fair, easy of anything else.
    Why would Obama put possibly the worst manipulator of Justice on a 2 person panel to make things work more fairer ?

  •  This phase is about gaining attention. (0+ / 0-)

    Federal changes to election laws, right out of the box, would raise a shitstorm of anger.  What you do is build the anger in the direction you want it to go, give the states a chance to reboot, make it Federal if they don't   This isn't a short-term project, there aren't 't enough people out there yet who are outraged and see this as anti-American.  They need to be awakened.  

    Plus it'll help nail the GOP, never a bad thing.

    I'm not looking for a love that will lift me up and carry me away. A love that will stroll alongside and make a few amusing comments will suffice.

    by I love OCD on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 06:54:06 AM PST

  •  Just what we need two more political men (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    madame damnable

    meddling into the most important freedom we have.  Our voting rights are being chipped away with every legislative session.  When will we as a people uprise and protest, when we can no longer vote we will no longer have a voice.

    The league of women voters has been in place for decades, is multi state, wouldn't that have been a more logical option to evaluate the status of voting rather than turn it over to 2 politicians who probably only give a rat's a&& about themselves and their careers?

    "To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medication to the dead." Thomas Paine

    by My two cents worth on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 07:22:19 AM PST

  •  It is a simple problem to solve (0+ / 0-)

    California, the most populous state with more population than the 21 least populous states, has managed to make voting fairly easy and quick. I  worked as an election official there and I think the most voters allotted to an individual precinct was 700. Even though we voted in somebody's garage or living room, 700 was quite possible in the course of  a 12 hour period. It would be busiest right after opening and right after work but never more than a 30 minute wait from start to finish. I also support the use of paper ballots, which should be counted at the polling place and the totals posted before ballots leave the polling place. That way the vote totals can be recreated in case the ballots are lost or destroyed. I hate voting machines of all kinds and feel that voting is something that should be LOW tech rather than extremely hackable high tech.

    I live in Oregon now and although I miss going to vote at a polling place, I love the mail-in ballot. No lines, high turn-out. They are scrupulous about the process and insure that signatures are checked against the voter's registration. I've worked at a county election office in Oregon as well.

    "Seed corn. It's what's for dinner!" Republican philosophy of governance

    by madame damnable on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 07:43:12 AM PST

    •  Misidentifying the problem (0+ / 0-)

      You're trying to solve a process problem. Yes, the voting process is broken, but that is only a symptom. The problem is that the GOP wants to keep the process broken for certain demographics. The only way to solve that is to get rid of republicans.

      +++ The law is a weapon used to bludgeon us peasants into submission. It is not to be applied to the monied elite.

      by cybersaur on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 08:14:44 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  really really obvious solution (0+ / 0-)

    i've posted this before, but i suppose i am all alone.....

    Since we bailed out the banks, and since ATM machines are EVERYWHERE, i suggest that every 2 years they be nationalized for one week before voting day until polls close in that zip code.

    Bank ATM machines are for all intents and purposes secure,
    accurate, and user friendly. And available 24 hours a day.

    the voter could use their Social Security number to vote,
    and the software could instantly check for a duplicate vote,age and eligibility.  Since there is a security camera, voter fraud would be recorded.

    the voter could input their zip code, and the appropriate ballot would appear.

    The software would walk the voter thru each step of the ballot with the ability to make a correction.

    There could even be an additional screens for the voter to click on with biographies of the candidates and explanations  of the pros and cons of ballot iniatives should a particular voter need the help to make an informed vote. ( I personally would like these screens to list the candidate's and initiative donors and sponsers, but i doubt that one would fly ).

    The voter could choose to have a receipt sent to their email or smart phone or printed out as a last resort.  

    The voter information would be deleted upon the vote count, but a computer trail would exist.

    Using the ATM option would not take the place of traditional voting options.  But it certainly would eliminate the lines, and excuses for not voting.

    Of course the software would have to be tamper proof.

    The vote count could be held until the polls close in that zip code and sent immediately to voting commission in that zip code.

    Any other concerns could be addressed as encountered in the process of enacting this voting option.

    If this option was adopted for federal elections the states would most likely join quickly for state elections and align their voting procedures to increase voter participation. (except in red states where the opposite seems to be true.)

  •  BO is almost comical (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in his's as if he has some deeply trusted advisor who actually works for the other side and BO doesn't even realize it.

    The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

    by dfarrah on Sat Feb 16, 2013 at 08:34:26 AM PST

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