By Nia-Malika Henderson and Felicia Sonmez
The Washington Post
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama's proposed commission on electoral reform aimed at improving voting efficiency and reducing long wait times for voters is producing heated criticism from advocates on both the right and the left.
Some conservatives see the initiative as a federal overreach into an issue that is rightly the province of states, while some voting rights advocates say that the president's proposed commission is a too timid response to what they see as a huge problem.
"Setting up a commission is not a bold step; it is business as usual," said Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League of Women Voters. Critics of the commission say it doesn't match the severity of the problem. "The president could have done much better by pointing to real solutions, like that in legislation already introduced on Capitol Hill to require early voting, set limits on waiting times, provide for portable voter registration and set up secure online voter registration."
Conservatives said the commission infringes on local control of the voting process.
"I do not support the president's proposal to appoint yet another national commission to study solutions to the problem of long lines at polling places that seems to be confined to very few states," Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., said in a statement, adding that she is opposed to national mandates.
Former Federal Elections Commission official Hans von Spakovsky, a Bush administration Justice Department official who is a fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, wrote a blog post Thursday morning criticizing Obama's move. He argued that the average wait time nationally for voters during the 2012 election was only 14 minutes and that the country already has a bipartisan election commission, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.