Getting Back Together: New Nominees Raise Hope for a Revived EAC

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[Image courtesy of thxbud]

After years of inaction, it looks like the powers that be in Washington are ready to put the EAC back together.

Yesterday, the White House issued a press release that included the following:

President Obama announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key Administration posts …

Matthew V. Masterson, Nominee for Commissioner, Election Assistance Commission

Matthew V. Masterson is Deputy Chief of Staff and Chief Information Officer for the Ohio Secretary of State, positions he has held since 2013. He previously served as Deputy Director of Elections from 2011 to 2013. Prior to joining the Ohio Secretary of State’s office, Mr. Masterson held multiple roles at the Election Assistance Commission from 2006 to 2011, including Deputy Director for the Testing and Certification Division, Attorney and Advisor, and Special Assistant and Counsel to Chair Paul DeGregorio. Mr. Masterson received a B.S. and a B.A. from Miami University and a J.D. from the University of Dayton School of Law.

Christy McCormick, Nominee for Commissioner, Election Assistance Commission

Christy McCormick is a Senior Trial Attorney in the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice, a position she has held since 2006. She was detailed by the Deputy Attorney General to be Senior Attorney Advisor and Acting Deputy Rule of Law Coordinator in the Office of the Rule of Law Coordinator at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq from 2009 to 2010. From 2003 to 2006, she served as a Judicial Clerk to the Honorable Elizabeth A. McClanahan in the Court of Appeals of Virginia. Ms. McCormick was an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant to the Solicitor General in the Office of the Attorney General of Virginia from 2001 to 2003. She was a Judicial Law Clerk in the Seventh Judicial Circuit Court of Virginia from 1999 to 2001. Ms. McCormick received a B.A. from the University of Buffalo and a J.D. from the George Mason University School of Law.

This is good news on a variety of fronts.

First, these two nominations suggest that Capitol Hill Republicans are ready to let the nomination and confirmation process move forward, which may put to rest (for the time being) the drive to defund and eliminate the EAC.

Second, they raise expectations that a full complement of Commissioners will be able to restart and/or continue the lesser-known but crucial functions of the EAC like voting system standards adoption and management of the Election Administration and Voting Survey, which underpins much of the data-focused reforms underway nationwide.

Finally, the fact that both nominees are not only familiar with but have interacted regularly with election officials is a welcome development. Masterson in particular is an inspired choice; Matt has been omnipresent for years in bipartisan discussions about election administration and is likely one of the best people (if not the best) to help the EAC address its role in preventing the “impending crisis in voting technology” identified by the President’s Commission on Election Administration.

This isn’t to say that a full EAC won’t have its bumps; as Rick Hasen notes, one of the first tasks facing a newly-reconstituted EAC will be to weigh in on the proof-of-citizenship requirements at issue in Kansas and Arizona in the case of Kobach v. EAC. I suspect the two new nominees might have a different view of that case than the Democratic nominees Myrna Perez and Tom Hicks. Hopefully that disagreement won’t interfere with moving forward on other efforts that need the EAC to occur.

All in all though, a good day for anyone who cares about the American election administration system. Here’s hoping the confirmation process moves quickly and uneventfully … congratulations to Ms. McCormick and Mr. Masterson!

Are you the police?
No, ma’am – we’re election geeks.

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