Election Assistance Commission

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Election Assistance Commission
US-ElectionAssistanceCommission-Seal.svg
Official seal
Agency overview
Formed 2002
Headquarters Washington, D.C.
Employees 44 (Thousand)
Annual budget $17.95 Million (FY2010)
Agency executive Donetta Davidson, Chair
Website www.eac.gov
Footnotes
[1][2]

The Election Assistance Commission (EAC) is an independent agency of the United States government created by the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). The Commission serves as a national clearinghouse and resource of information regarding election administration. It is charged with administering payments to states and developing guidance to meet HAVA requirements, adopting voluntary voting system guidelines, and accrediting voting system test laboratories and certifying voting equipment. It is also charged with developing and maintaining a national mail voter registration form.

Responsibilities[edit]

The EAC is tasked with performing a number of election-related duties including:[1]

  • Creating and maintaining the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines
  • Creating a national program for the testing, certification, and decertification of voting systems
  • Maintaining the National Mail Voter Registration Form required by the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA)
  • Reporting to Congress every two years on the effects of the NVRA on elections
  • Administering federal funds to States for HAVA requirements
  • Administering federal funds for the development of innovative election technology, including pilot programs to test election technology
  • Studying and reporting best practices of effective administration
  • Communicating information on laws, technologies, procedures, studies, and data related to the administration of federal elections to those responsible for formulating or implementing election law and procedures, to the media, and to other interested persons

History[edit]

The HAVA dictates the EAC will create voluntary guidelines for voting systems, maintaining a clearinghouse of information regarding election administration procedures including testing and certification of election equipment, and administering the Election Assistance and Help America Vote Programs.[citation needed]

In 2003, Congress appropriated US$1.5 billion for HAVA. The General Services Administration distributed most of the $650 million permitted under Title I of HAVA, but the remainder was earmarked for the EAC to disburse. The funds languished because the commissioners were not confirmed until 9 December 2003; the law had required that they be in place by 26 February 2003.[citation needed]

In its 2004 budget, Congress again allocated $1.5 billion to fund HAVA. By January 2004, the EAC had no permanent offices or budget, even though it was required to publish state election reform plans in the Federal Register before money for new voting equipment could be disbursed to the states.[citation needed]

In 2011, United States Representative Gregg Harper introduced a bill to end the EAC and transfer some of its authority to the Federal Election Commission.[2]

EAC Chair and Commissioners[edit]

The Help America Vote Act specifies that four commissioners are nominated by the President on recommendations from the majority and minority leadership in the U.S. House and U.S. Senate. Once confirmed by the full Senate, commissioners may serve two consecutive terms and no more than two commissioners may belong to the same political party.

Former Commissioners[edit]

As of June 2013, all four commissioner positions are vacant.

Former Commissioners include: DeForest Soaries, Jr. (2003–2005); Ray Martinez, III (2003–2006); Paul S. DeGregorio (2003–2007); Caroline Hunter (2007–2008); Rosemary E. Rodriguez (2007–2009); Gracia Hillman (2003-2010); Donetta Davidson (2005-2011); Gineen Bresso (2008-2011).

Paul S. DeGregorio a past chairman of the EAC. He was nominated by President Bush and confirmed by unanimous consent of the U.S. Senate on December 9, 2003. DeGregorio replaced the EAC's original Chairman, former Secretary of State of New Jersey DeForest Soaries. He had previously served as Vice Chairman. Prior to his service with the EAC Chairman DeGregorio served as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES), and was Director of Elections for St. Louis County, Missouri from 1985 to 1993.

Commissioner Caroline Hunter[3] who served as Deputy Director of Public Liaison for the White House and as Deputy Counsel of the Republican National Committee.

Commissioner Rodriguez[3] previously served on the Denver City Council of the City and County of Denver, District 3, Colorado.

Gracia Hillman served as EAC Chair in 2005[4] and is the former executive director of the League of Women Voters of the United States.

Donetta Davidson is a former Colorado Secretary of State and was the agency's 2007 chair.[5]

Gineen Bresso served as EAC Chair in 2009[6] and was the minority elections counsel for the Committee on House Administration prior to her appointment with EAC. She previously served as a policy advisor to former Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. where her primary area of focus was on election law.

Officers and staff[edit]

Executive Director[edit]

The Executive Director position is vacant. The previous Executive Director was Thomas R. Wilkey, who resigned in November 2011. Prior to the EAC, Mr. Wilkey served a four-year term as the executive director of the New York State Board of Elections beginning in 2003. He worked 34 years in the field of election administration.[7] The executive director position was created by HAVA §204 (a).

General Counsel[edit]

The General Counsel position is vacant. The former General Counsel, serving under the Executive Director, was Juliet E. Thompson.[8] She previously held the position of Associate General Counsel at the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, and General Counsel of the Louisiana Department of Elections and Registration.

Inspector General[edit]

The current Inspector General is Curtis Crider. The Office of the Inspector general is tasked with detecting and preventing fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement of EAC programs, regularly performing audits and evaluations.

Standards Board[edit]

The EAC Standards Board was established under title II section 211 of HAVA. Its duties include reviewing the voluntary voting systems guidelines and review of the best practices recommendations. The Board consists of 110 members, 55 State election officials and 55 local election officials. The Board adopts resolutions and makes recommendations by simple majority vote.[9](see a full list of Standards Board members)

The Executive Board includes 9 members: Peggy Nighswonger, State Elections Director, Cheyenne, WY (Chair); Bill Campbell, City Clerk, City of Woburn, Woburn, MA (Vice Chair); Sarah Ball Johnson, Executive Director, State Board of Elections, Frankfort, KY (Secretary); Tonni Bartholomew, Troy City Clerk, Troy, MI; Louis Bernard, Clerk of Court, Natchitoches Parish, Natchitoches, LA; John Lindback, Director, State of Oregon, Elections Division, Salem, OR; Larry Lomax, Clark County Registrar of Voters, North Las Vegas, NV; Deb Markowitz, Secretary of State, Montpelier, VT; and Todd Rokita, Secretary of State, Indianapolis, IN.[10]

Board of Advisors[edit]

The EAC Board of Advisors was established under title II section 211 of HAVA. Like the Standards Board the Board of Advisor's duties include reviewing the voluntary voting systems guidelines and review of the best practices recommendations. The Board consists of appointed members. Two members being appointed by each of, the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National Association of Secretaries of State, the National Association of State Election Directors, the National Association of Counties, the National Association of County Recorders, Election Officials, and Clerks (NACRC), the United States Conference of Mayors, the Election Center, the International Association of County Recorders, Election Officials, and Treasurers (IACREOT), the United States Commission on Civil Rights, and the Architectural and Transportation Barrier Compliance Board. The Board also includes the chief of the Office of Public Integrity of the Department of Justice, the Chief of the Voting Section of the Civil Rights (DOJ), and the director of the Federal Voting Assistance Program of the Department of Defense. Further, the Board also includes four members representing professionals in the field of science and technology, one appointed by the Speaker and one by the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, one appointed by the Majority Leader and the Minority Leader of the Senate. The eight final members of the Board, four members are appointed by the United States House Committee on House Administration and four members are appointed by the United States Senate Committee on Rules and Administration.[11] (see a full list of Advisory Board members)

Technical Guidelines Development Committee[edit]

The Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) is tasked with assisting the EAC in drafting the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines.[12] The Committee membership consists of the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); 14 members appointed jointly by the EAC and the Director of NIST from the Standards Board, the Board of Advisors, the Architectural and Transportation Barrier, and the Access Board, a representative of American National Standards Institute (ANSI), a representative of the IEEE, two representatives of the NASED, and other individuals with technical and scientific expertise relating to voting systems and voting equipment.[12] (see a full list of TGDC members)

Criticisms[edit]

Critics have contended that the EAC has responded positively to political pressure from the Republican Party and the Department of Justice. For example, the EAC is said to have overstated the problem of voter fraud, which is often cited by Republicans as a justification for restrictive measures that Democrats charge are intended to prevent qualified Democrats from voting. The EAC Chair denied that there was any political pressure.[13] Tova Wang, a consultant to the Commission, wrote a detailed account in The Washington Post about how her research and that of her Republican co-author had been disregarded or altered, to produce a published report "that completely stood our own work on its head." The changes included playing up the voter fraud issue and omitting references to charges of voter intimidation lodged by Democrats, as well as removing all criticisms of the Department of Justice.[14]

In 2009, the United States Office of Special Counsel issued a report that found that the EAC engaged in political discrimination in federal hiring against an attorney to fill the General Counsel position because he was a Republican.[15] The report was in response to a settlement between the attorney and the EAC, in which the attorney was paid an unspecified about of money. [16][17]

See also[edit]


References[edit]

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