President Barack Obama announced his intention to create a nonpartisan commission to “improve the voting experience in America” during his State of the Union address Tuesday night.
"I’m asking two longtime experts in the field, who, by the way, recently served as the top attorneys for my campaign and for Gov. [Mitt] Romney’s campaign, to lead it,” Obama told lawmakers gathered in the House chamber.
Bob Bauer, a lawyer at Perkins Coie who served as Obama’s White House counsel, also chaired his re-election committee and counsels the Democratic National Committee.
Benjamin Ginsberg, a lawyer at Patton Boggs, advised the Romney campaign and was also national counsel to the Bush/Cheney campaign in 2000 and 2004.
The commission would focus on specific Election Day issues and not delve into more comprehensive voting overhaul efforts, according to media reports.
Obama referenced the need to overhaul voting procedures in both his November victory speech and his inaugural address, saying on Election Day of the long lines: “We need to fix that.” He echoed that sentiment Tuesday evening.
“We can fix this, and we will. The American people demand it. And so does our democracy,” Obama said.
An elderly resident of Miamia, Fla., who waited several hours to cast a ballot was the guest of first lady Michelle Obama, the White House announced.
“When any Americans — no matter where they live or what their party — are denied that right simply because they can’t wait for five, six, seven hours just to cast their ballot, we are betraying our ideals,” Obama said.
Obama did not detail the specifics of the commission, its structure or how it would function. It was unclear after his remarks how it would differ from a similar executive branch agency created during the aftermath of Bush v. Gore that still exists but operates without a single commissioner, executive director or general counsel because of congressional infighting.