After four years without a quorum (and three years without a single commissioner), the Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) now has a quorum of three confirmed commissioners.
The U.S. Senate acted yesterday, December 16, 2014, to confirm the new commissioners: Thomas Hicks (D), Mathew Masterson (R), and Christy McCormick (R). The EAC now has an opportunity to fulfill the duties it has fallen short of for the past few years while it has essential been inoperable. Frankly, this is cause for celebration!
FairVote, among many other organizations that want to see better elections, has been calling on Congress to confirm a quorum of commissioners to the EAC and allow the commission to accomplish its duties described in the 2002 Help America Vote Act (HAVA). In a 2013 email calling on supporters to contact their congressperson, FairVote stated that "creating an active EAC is a simple positive step--and one that happens to be the law." After several years of waiting, that step has finally been taken, and the EAC will be able to function once again with a quorum, and a group of commissioners that have generated optimism among members of the voting community.
The bottom line is that this is exciting. While national standards are not a fix-all solution to the electoral issues plaguing our nation's democracy, they do provide a base of uniform best practices for each state. In an age where thousands of voting jurisdictions run elections in thousands of different ways, and American voting technology falls far short of what it could be, this development is definitely something for voters and fans of democracy across the country to be excited about. This is a huge step forward, and is hopefully just the first step in many by this newly empowered commission.