Obama launches commission to investigate voting irregularities
US President Barack Obama Thursday tasked a presidential commission to probe long lines at polling stations and other irregularities faced by voters in last year’s election.
Obama, making good on a promise issued in his victory speech last November, signed an executive order to charter the commission, which will deliver a report within six months of its first formal meeting.
The nine-member panel will be chaired by Bob Bauer and Ben Ginsberg, who served as top lawyers for the presidential campaigns of Obama and his Republican opponent Mitt Romney last year.
They will be tasked with finding ways to shorten lines at polling booths and to promote efficient elections by helping voters from the military, those with poor English skills and the disabled to cast their ballots.
It will look into the location, management and operation of polling places, the training of poll workers and the efficiency of often problematic voting machines that are used in many states.
White House deputy spokesman Josh Earnest said the report was intended to serve as a “best practices guide” for state and local election officials.
He said Obama also supported any effort by Congress to improve voting conditions.
In practice however, Obama’s commission will be more of an attempt to promote reform rather than mandate it, as voting laws are mostly administered by states, hence the widely differing standards throughout the country.
Reports of voting irregularities, long lines at the polls and attempts to disenfranchise voters often surface following US elections, but only in ultra-tight races like in 2000 do they have the potential to sway a result.
In November 2012, there were tales of voters enduring hours-long waits outside polling stations as well as allegations of failures of voting machines.