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Election Assistance Commission May Be Closing

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Rep. Gregg Harper is proposing legislation to shut down the Election Assistance Commission.

Though the ultimate fate of the EAC rests with the passage of proposals, the agency says it is still working to fulfill its duties. “The Help America Vote Act gave us important work to do on behalf of voters and election officials,” EAC spokeswoman Jeannie Layson said. “Unless and until Congress tells us otherwise, we will continue to focus on our mission ­— improving federal elections.”

Harper’s bill has 18 other Republican co-sponsors. While the legislation has proponents and opponents in the House, it appears to have bipartisan support from the FEC. The agency wrote a letter last month to House Administration ranking member Robert Brady (D-Pa.) endorsing the idea of taking over some of the EAC’s responsibilities.

“Should Congress enact this bill and provide an appropriation that adequately reflects this change, we believe that the FEC could absorb the added functions and responsibilities, while continuing to fulfill our current mission successfully,” the FEC’s Democratic chairwoman, Cynthia Bauerly, wrote on behalf of the commission.

The letter went on to say that the FEC might use contracts with outside groups to fulfill aspects of the EAC’s responsibilities.

If passed, the legislation could create a small increase for the FEC’s existing budget and personnel, but the agency’s staff said it would not dramatically affect its operations. The EAC has a budget of about $18 million and employs 50 full-time workers, while the FEC has a $66.5 million budget and 375 workers.

Clarification: April 14, 2011

The Federal Election Commission has taken no formal position on the proposed legislation to eliminate the Election Assistance Commission.

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