In his State Of The Union Address on February 12, President Obama cited a number of new initiatives on which he intended the federal government to take action. The area that understandably caused the biggest furor was the president’s reference to his proposals for increased federal restrictions on private firearm ownership, which he had outlined the previous month in a national address capitalizing on the December 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre.
Another proposal of the president focused on “one of the most fundamental rights of a democracy: the right to vote.” After the applause died down, President Obama declared: “When any American, no matter where they live or what their party, are denied that right because they can’t afford to wait for five or six or seven hours just to cast their ballot, we are betraying our ideals.” More enthusiastic applause.
“So tonight,” said the president, “I’m announcing a nonpartisan commission to improve the voting experience in America. And it definitely needs improvement.”
Last week, on March 28, just before the Easter weekend, the White House press office released President Obama’s latest executive order, on the “Establishment of the Presidential Commission of Election Administration.”
The creation of the new commission appears to portend even greater activism and interference by the administration in the upcoming mid-term elections than it has already shown itself capable of in the 2012 elections. President Obama’s Department of Justice, recall, sued to block state efforts at implementing voter identification laws that had been passed by state legislatures to prevent voter fraud. The administration did not hesitate to trespass on this constitutionally reserved right of the states, but joined with media allies and Democrat activists in denouncing these sensible measures as “voter suppression,” and, of course, suggesting that the measures were racist in nature and aimed at disenfranchising black and Hispanic voters. At the same time, the DOJ chose not to pursue action against militant Black Panther activists that were actually involved in voter suppression through threats and intimidation at polling places.
Section 3 of the new executive order states:
The Commission shall identify best practices and otherwise make recommendations to promote the efficient administration of elections in order to ensure that all eligible voters have the opportunity to cast their ballots without undue delay, and to improve the experience of voters facing other obstacles in casting their ballots, such as members of the military, overseas voters, voters with disabilities, and voters with limited English proficiency.
Interesting that the executive order mentions “the experience of voters facing other obstacles in casting their ballots, such as members of the military,” especially since the Obama administration has been credibly accused by many military veterans organizations of suppressing the military vote (see here and here).
A McClatchy News Service report last year noted:
In 2010, of the approximately 2 million military and overseas voters accounted for in data reported by the states to the Election Assistance Commission, only 4.6 percent of those voters were able to cast an absentee ballot that counted, according to the Military Voter Protection Project’s analysis of that data from the federal Election Assistance Commission, which tracks participation in voting.
This means that more than an astounding 95 percent of military and overseas voters failed to vote — for one reason or another. According to the Military Voter Protection Project, the Department of Defense under President Obama has consistently taken many actions to undermine the 2009 Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act (MOVE Act), which was enacted to facilitate access to absentee ballots for our military personnel serving overseas. Now the administration is citing those obstacles that it helped to create as proof of the need for even more interference in state elections.
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Photo of President Barack Obama: AP Images