On March 28, President Obama issued Executive Order 13639, establishing a Presidential Commission on Election Administration “in order to promote the efficient administration of Federal elections and to improve the experience of all voters.” The ostensible premise behind this effort is the idea that some voters were forced to wait too long in line to cast their ballots. Yet a growing number of critics see something entirely different: they see this as an attempt to initiate a federal takeover of elections.
Former Justice Department official J. Christian Adams characterizes the president’s effort as a ”federal solution in search of a problem,” which as foreshadowed in Obama’s State of the Union address. He spoke of a woman named Desiline Victor, a 102-year-old Florida resident forced to show up twice on October 28, the first day of early voting, due to the long lines she encountered. “When she arrived at her polling place, she was told the wait to vote might be six hours,” Obama said, “And as time ticked by, her concern was not with her tired body or aching feet, but whether folks like her would get to have their say.”
Like many of Obama’s efforts to tug at the emotional heartstrings of Americans, the devil is in the details. In general, the lines on the first day of early voting are usually much longer than those encountered on Election Day. This was confirmed by an MIT study that revealed the average wait for voting on Election Day was seven minutes shorter than the wait on other days. Moreover, Florida is somewhat notorious for loading up ballots with lengthy referendums that voters ought to review before they show up to the polls, but don’t in many cases. Adams also points out that lengthy waits to vote “occur frequently in large cities where elections are administered by Democrats.”
On his website, he gets to the crux of the issue. “The federal government is forever searching for more ways to snatch power from the states; that’s the nature of the beast,” he explains. “No Republicans should acquiesce to another federal power grab over state elections– dispersing power over elections means that no one entity, or person, can easily manipulate the process. The Founders knew that decentralized control over the process helps preserve individual liberty.”
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