The Electoral Assistance Commission (EAC) was established following the enactment of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). It will, among other things, oversee the process of determining how many ballots have been voted from abroad.
The EAC should have four commissioners — two appointed by the Democratic Party and two by the Republican Party. Three are needed for the EAC to conduct votes, write policy and issue advisory opinions; this quorum has not existed since 2010. The House Committee on Rules and Administration, given oversight of the EAC, last met on February 12, 2014 — and the formal nominations of the two Democrats appointed by President Obama were put off again. During the Committee's December 2013 hearings, a debate ensued about whether the EAC should even exist. Its funding and resources have been severely cut in recent years. Nonpartisan organizations like the League of Women Voters and the Brennan Center routinely demonstrate their support for the EAC by objecting to attempts to eliminate it. They agree the EAC’s role in counting overseas ballots, among other mandates, is crucial. The four commissioners are needed, and the EAC is needed.
Impact on Overseas Americans
Uneven state compliance with federal regulations
Despite the important advances in federal legislation, the facilitation of voting faces the same challenge today that it has faced throughout: voting is the responsibility of the individual states. While federal legislation mandates some elements of overseas voting, the 13,000 different voting constituencies in the United States may have very different regulations and practices. Implementation of MOVE and HAVA is moving forward, yet another challenge does remain.
- Congress to support the EAC's mandate — it currently has no Commissions, no Counsel and only an Acting Executive Director — and provide adequate funding for its operations; the Senate Rules and Administration Committee to move urgently to confirm the President's existing nominees for Commissioner and to seek the urgent provision of nominees to fill the two remaining Commissioner positions;
- Congress to encourage the states to send full and complete data on overseas absentee ballots to the EAC.