U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita, a member of the House Committee on Administration, released the following statement today following the passage of H.R. 1994, a bill to terminate the Election Assistance Commission (EAC).
"During my service as Indiana's Secretary of State, we reformed and streamlined our electoral system with the goal of more fair and accurate elections. We built Indiana's statewide voter file, installed new voting equipment, and made voting more convenient by harnessing technology so that voting centers could be used if counties chose to do so. We also led an innovative effort to expand online voter registration. This was completed on time, under budget, and we only had to build it once. I am well aware of the great work along similar lines in many other states, and today's vote is a continuation of that effort.
"The EAC is an outdated program that no longer provides value to taxpayers. And unfortunately, the attitude demonstrated by this small agency is indicative of the problems we're seeing across all agencies -- that somehow, overseers in Washington, D.C., ought to be telling state and local officials how to do their jobs better. It is one more example of an overreaching, wasteful government program that must be cut if we're going to get serious about our debt crisis and hold the federal government accountable to the Constitution," said Rokita.
The Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) was created by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) to help states replace old punch card and lever voting systems, and to implement statewide registration databases. When the Commission was created, it was only authorized for three years, yet more than five years later, with its mission largely complete, the EAC continues.
Election experts across the country, including the National Association of Secretaries of State, an organization that Rokita formerly served as president, have supported ending the EAC.
You can view Rokita's remarks at the hearing regarding the effectiveness of the EAC, or the entire hearing, here. Rokita's first exchange begins at 54:23.
The committee also discussed the Voter Registration Efficiency Act, a bill sponsored by Rokita and Chairman Candice Miller, to require new state residents applying for a driver's license to notify the state if they intend to use their new residency for the purpose of voting. If so, the legislation then requires the new state to notify the previous state of residence so its chief election official can update voter lists accordingly. This legislation was introduced last year as the Voter Registration Integrity Act.
Additional legislation passed by the committee today would reform or eliminate the Presidential Election Campaign Fund.
H.R. 94, Sponsored by Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., would prohibit taxpayer funds collected through the Presidential Election Campaign Fund from being used for national party conventions. Last year, the RNC and DNC received $36 million for their conventions. However, a review of the 2008 convention expenditures showed that these funds were used for floral arrangements, gift bags, live music and makeup consultants.
H.R. 95, Sponsored by Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., would eliminate the Presidential Election Campaign Fund altogether, returning the Fund's remaining balance of $260 million back to the U.S. Treasury for deficit reduction. The program, intended to instill greater public confidence in presidential election campaigns, has lost the support of taxpayers and candidates alike. According to the Federal Election Commission, the percentage of participating taxpayers dropped from 29% in 1980 to approximately 5% in 2012. Major candidates started refusing the funds back in 2000, and President Obama entirely opted out the program in 2008 and 2012, refusing funds for both the primary and general elections.