Last Tuesday during his State of the Union address, President Obama announced his solution to the nation’s flawed voting systems: the formation of a nonpartisan voting commission. The League of Women Voters, which has worked to protect voting rights for over 90 years, was disappointed by what we heard. We believe that the President’s plan to tackle problems at the polls lacks the immediate action needed to ensure that every American citizen can exercise the right to vote.
“The President is essentially kicking the can down the road,” LWVUS President Elisabeth MacNamara told Huffington Post Live. “A commission is simply delaying our opportunity to take advantage of the public demand for action. We want to see action now.”
“We were hoping for bold action, not lip service,” MacNamara told NPR. "Long lines occur every four years. There is no real mystery as to why this happens," she said. Indeed, the reasons for problems at the polls are well-known and well-documented. MacNamara told MSNBC’s Chris Jansing, “We need a less antiquated voter registration system, more equitable polling place allocation, and we need early voting.”
The League believes that the President could have announced real solutions like those delineated in legislation already introduced on Capitol Hill, including requiring early voting, setting limits on waiting times, providing for portable voter registration and establishing secure online voter registration.
Miss the media frenzy? Here’s a roundup of news featuring the League of Women Voter’s stand on the new voting commission.
- Elizabeth MacNamara, League of Women Voters President: Obama Voting Commission Will Delay Voting Reform, Huffington Post Live, 2/13/13
- Election Reform: Presidential Commission Too Little, Activists Say, Huffington Post, 2/13/12
- We Can Fix This? In SOTU, Obama Shoves Voting Reform into 'Sock Drawer,' Leaving Many Disappointed, PR Watch, 2/13/13
- Voting Rights Advocates Wonder Whether Obama Already Blew It, Slate, 2/13/12
- Election Opponents Team Up on Panel to Fix Voting System, New York Times, 2/14/13
- Obama’s proposed voting commission under partisan fire from both sides, The Washington Post, 2/14/13
- Will Obama’s Commission Fix Our Broken Voting System? Bill Moyers, 2/14/13
- Backlash from both parties to Obama’s proposed voting commission, MSNBC, 2/15/13
- President's New Voting Commission Greeted With Skepticism, NPR, 2/15/13
- Obama's Voting Initiative Greeted With Skepticism, Roll Call, 2/15/13
- Bauer-Ginsberg election commission unlikely to accomplish much despite obvious need, Daily Kos, 2/15/13