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Public Statements

Letter to Minority Leader McConnell an Speaker Boehner - Election Assistance Commission

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) today called on Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to respond to conservative Justice Antonin Scalia's opinion in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona by submitting their recommendations for the two open Republican positions on the Election Assistance Commission (EAC).

Writing for the majority in Arizona, Justice Scalia confirmed the necessity of the EAC by noting its essential role in the election process because of its rulemaking authority and its mandate to consult with States on changes to election procedures.

"As you know, the EAC plays a key role in ensuring that every eligible American is able to register to vote and cast a ballot in our elections," Senator Boxer wrote in the letter. "In addition to the Commission's responsibilities to register voters, the EAC certifies voting machines and technology, and conducts voting system audits to monitor compliance with federal law."

"I encourage you to take Justice Scalia's advice and fulfill the obligations given to your offices under the law, so that together we can get the Election Assistance Commission working again, and together we can let the American people know that the government is protecting their fundamental right to register to vote and cast their ballots."

Senator Boxer first wrote to the GOP leaders last November asking them to address Election Day dysfunction by recommending nominees to the EAC. The EAC still does not have any commissioners or an Executive Director, and it has not held a public meeting since 2011.

While President Obama renominated Thomas Hicks and Myrna Perez to be members of the EAC earlier this month, neither GOP leader's office has recommended names for the remaining open positions.

The full text of the letter follows:

June 20, 2013

The Honorable Mitch McConnell The Honorable John Boehner
Senate Minority Leader Speaker of the House
S-230, United States Capitol H-232, United States Capitol
Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20510

Dear Minority Leader McConnell and Speaker Boehner:

Last November, after millions of citizens faced problems voting on Election Day, I wrote to call your attention to the vacancies at the Election Assistance Commission (EAC). Seven months have now passed since that letter was sent and the EAC still does not have a single commissioner.

Since last year, the necessity of an operational EAC has been shown once again - this time in the recent Supreme Court case Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona. Justice Antonin Scalia's opinion for the majority of the Court shows how important a functioning EAC is to the process of creating and maintaining the Federal Form to register voters for federal elections.

Justice Scalia wrote that the EAC is essential because of its rulemaking authority and its mandate to consult with States on changes to its election procedures. Unfortunately, without a functioning EAC, every request from a State for a consultation or a change to its election rules will be met with silence from a Commission that has no commissioners, no Executive Director, and hasn't held a public meeting since 2011.

As you know, the EAC plays a key role in ensuring that every eligible American is able to register to vote and cast a ballot in our elections. In addition to the Commission's responsibilities to register voters, the EAC certifies voting machines and technology, and conducts voting system audits to monitor compliance with federal law. The Commission also works to help military and overseas citizens cast their votes and serves as a national clearinghouse for information on election administration.

Under the law, Senate and House leadership of both parties each make recommendations to the President, who then nominates commissioners, subject to Senate consent. On June 7, 2013, President Obama renominated Thomas Hicks and Myrna Perez to be members of the EAC. Your offices have still not recommended names for the two Republican positions on the Commission.

I encourage you to take Justice Scalia's advice and fulfill the obligations given to your offices under the law, so that together we can get the Election Assistance Commission working again, and together we can let the American people know that the government is protecting their fundamental right to register to vote and cast their ballots.

Sincerely,

Barbara Boxer
United States Senator


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