Boo! The National Association of Secretaries of States has renewed its deplorable and indefensible call to stop funding the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. The EAC is no panacea but it can do some very helpful work on issues of voting technology and promulgating rules for best practices. This is a turf war, it is a fear of a slightly larger federal role in elections, and it disgusts me. (I discuss this much more in my book, The Voting Wars.)
Doug Chapin has the details:
WHEREAS, the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), on February 6, 2005, voted to approve a resolution by a substantial majority asking Congress not to reauthorize or fund the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) after the conclusion of the 2006 federal election, by which date all the states were required to fully implement the mandates of the Help America Vote Act; and
WHEREAS, the 2005 resolution was passed to help prevent the EAC from eventually evolving into a regulatory body, contrary to the spirt of the Help America Vote Act; and
WHEREAS, that action was meant to preserve the state’ ability to serve as laboratories of change through successful experiments and innovation in election reform; and
WHEREAS, each resolution passed at a NASS conference sunsets after five years unless reauthorized by a vote of the members; and
WHEREAS, the NASS position on funding and authorization of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission was renewed by the membership on July 20, 2010;
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the National Association of Secretaries of State, expressing their continued consistent position in 2015, reaffirm their resolution of 2005 and 2010 and encourage Congress not to reauthorize or fund the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
This one was contentious (passed largely but not exclusively on a party-line vote); it reflects ongoing skepticism about the expanded federal role post-HAVA in election administration as well as partisan concerns in Congress about the wisdom and desirability of expending federal funds on the EAC. Reports from the meeting suggest that there were pleas to let the new Commissioners do their work but that the longstanding concerns about federal oversight eventually carried the day. It is notable, however, that the new resolution essentially preserves the uneasy compromise that characterizes the status quo.