Neutral Election Administration

The previous entry highlighted a number of the top recommendations put forth by the Commission on Federal Election Reform. Section 6 deals with Election Administration; the report recommends five specific actions (abbreviated):

  • The reconstitution of election management institutions on a nonpartisan basis to make them more independent and effective. U.S. Election Assistance Commission members and each state’s chief elections officer should be selected and be expected to act in a nonpartisan manner, and the institutions should have sufficient funding for research and trainig and to conduct the best elections possible.
  • Congress should approve legislation that would add a fifth member to the U.S Election Assistance Commission, who would serve as the EAC’s chairperson and who would be nominated by the President based on capability, integrity, and nonpartisanship.
  • Shates should prohibit senior election officials from serving or assisting political campaigns in a partisan way, other than their own campaigns in states where they are elected
  • States should make existing election bodies as nonpartisan as possible within the constraints of each states’s constitution. Among the ways this might be accomplished would be if the individuals who serve as the state’s chief elections officer were chosen based on their capability, integrity, and nonpartisanship. The state legislatures would need to confirm these individuals by a two-thirds majority on one or both houses.
  • Each state’s chief elections officer should, to the extent reasonably possible, ensure uniformity of voting procedures throughout the state, as with provisional ballots.

Overall, I find this to be one of the most important recommendations: confidence in fair election administration can not be maintained if staunch partisan officers are in charge of the elections. Such a situation consitutes an obvious conflict-of-interest.