[UPDATED THRICE following the State of the Union address.]
Ryan J. Reilly had the scoop at HuffPo tonight. We're about to get another bipartisan commission on voting reforms...
The commission is one of a number of efforts the Obama administration is making to address the problems that plagued voting on Election Day 2012. The commission, which will focus specifically on Election Day issues and not broader voting reform, will likely be co-chaired by one Republican and one Democratic lawyer, according to one of the sources.
After the 2000 Presidential election fiasco, a bipartisan blue-ribbon commission headed by former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford was created by Congress. The commission offered reforms that ultimately helped lead to the disastrous Help America Vote Act of 2002. That bill, among other things, offered some $4 billion in federal money to states in order to "upgrade" to computerized voting systems. Those same systems, using proprietary hardware and software from private vendors, tally votes in secret and continue to fail in election after election even today.
After the 2004 Presidential election fiasco, a private bipartisan commission was created, as The BRAD BLOG was the first to reveal, by high-level Republican operatives and former Bush/Cheney officials calling themselves the American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR). The private commission, formed in secret, was headed by Carter and longtime Bush family friend James A. Baker III, the man who took Bush's 2000 fight to keep ballots from being counted in the state of Florida all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The inclusion of Baker on the commission led to an uproar from Election Integrity advocates, a furious response at The BRAD BLOG from the commission's Executive Director for our revelation of the scam, a letter from then Chair of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) stating his "strong opposition" to Baker's presence on the commission, and then a guest-blog from Conyers himself, here at The BRAD BLOG.
As Conyers noted at the time, and as the sham Baker/Carter commission's report ultimately showed, the private commission was created in order to lay the groundwork for polling place Photo ID restrictions down the road. "Make no mistake about it," Conyers wrote here at the time, detailing his belief that the commission's push for Photo ID restrictions was "more of the same old Ken Blackwell-style Republican electoral dirty tricks, where Democratic voters are deliberately disenfranchised so that Republicans can win elections."
While the privately created Baker/Carter commission was meant to appear similar to the official Ford/Carter blue-ribbon commission (Ford was ailing at the time of the second commission, so was replaced with Baker), we can only hope that whatever new commission President Obama has in mind won't end up with the same "dead-on-arrival" recommendations as the ones from Baker and Carter. Though those recommendations were roundly criticized at the time, they are still cited today --- as if they were official recommendations --- by Republicans hoping to disenfranchise legal American voters through new restrictions on voting.
UPDATE: Reilly at HuffPo had it right. The President announced his call for a new commission during his State of the Union address tonight...