-By Zachary Roth
May 21, 2013- More than six months after declaring on election night that “we’ve got to fix” long lines at the polls that forced some voters to wait up to eight hours, President Obama has announced the members of his commission on election administration. The list includes a mix of business executives, public officials, and election administrators, but no dedicated voting-rights advocates.
Obama had previously revealed that Washington super-lawyers Bob Bauer and Ben Ginsberg, a Democrat and Republican respectively, would chair the panel. Tuesday, he named the following eight commissioners:
– Brian Britton, Member–Vice President, Global Park Operations and Planning at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
– Joe Echevarria, Member–Chief Executive Officer, Deloitte LLP
– Trey Grayson, Member–Director of the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University
– Larry Lomax, Member–Clark County (Nevada) Registrar
– Michele Coleman Mayes, Member–Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary for the New York Public Library
– Ann McGeehan, Member–Assistant General Counsel of the Texas County and District Retirement System
– Tammy Patrick, Member–Federal Compliance Officer for the Maricopa County (Arizona) Elections Department
– Christopher Thomas, Member–Director of Elections in the Michigan Department of State
Obama also announced that Nathaniel Persily, a professor at Columbia Law School who has generally been skeptical of voting restrictions aimed at combating fraud, will be the commission’s senior research director. And the commission unveiled a new website, supportthevoter.gov.
The commission has six months to deliver a report with recommendations for fixes. As part of reducing long lines, it will look into fixing the error-plagued and incomplete voter registration system—51 million Americans are eligible to vote but not registered—and improving election facilities and machines.
Rick Hasen, a professor at UC Irvine law school and an expert on voting issues, said the omission of voting-rights advocates reflects an attempt to keep the panel from being bogged down in partisan squabbling.
“While including voting-rights advocates might make sense in the abstract, the Commission is walking a difficult political line to stay above the partisan fray as much as possible,” Hasen said via email. “Including voting-rights advocates would have led those on the right to call for more balance.”