Will Obama’s “Bipartisan” Voting Commission Enable More Republican Obstruction?

Dave Johnson

Uh Oh, President Obama is being bipartisan again. You know what that means: Republican sabotage again enabled. This time he’s appointing a conservative operative to help “fix” voting problems. Will this just enable Republicans to sabotage the voting commission? The record of results from Obama’s bipartisan instinct is not good. In fact, the record is abysmal.

In his State of the Union speech President Obama said he is appointing the the lawyers from his campaign and the Mitt Romney campaign to head a commission charged with solving voting problems like the long lines — up to six, even seven hour waits — at polling places in minority and other Democratic-aligned areas. Obama said,

We must all do our part to make sure our God-given rights are protected here at home. That includes our most fundamental right as citizens: the right to vote. When any American—no matter where they live or what their party—are denied that right because they can’t afford to wait for five, six, seven hours just to cast their ballot, we are betraying our ideals. So, tonight, I’m announcing a non-partisan commission to improve the voting experience in America, and it definitely needs improvement. I’m asking two longtime experts in the field, who, by the way, served as the top attorneys for my campaign and for Governor Romney’s campaign, to lead it. We can fix this, and we will. The American people demand it. And so does our democracy.

Here’s the thing. The reason voting lines were so long in Democrat-voting areas is that Republicans set it up that way to keep Democrats from voting. So any “bipartisan” effort that protects Republican interests will necessarily result in Americans being denied access to the polls!

President Obama appointed Ben Ginsberg, formerly the lawyer for the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and the Bush-Cheney ’04 campaign! He was the lawyer for the effort to delay Al Franken’s entry to the Senate for months after he was elected! Ginsberg had to resign from the Bush campaign after he was caught illegally coordinating the Swift Boat efforts with the campaign.

Ari Berman at The Nation, Obama Appoints a Controversial GOP Lawyer to His Voting Commission,

For over two decades, Ginsberg has been a top lawyer for the Republican Party—the same party, you may recall, that has led the effort to restrict voting rights of late. Ginsberg helped lead the 2000 recall effort for George W. Bush. He was forced to resign from the Bush campaign in 2004 after it was revealed that he was also advising the vile Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. In 2006, Ginsberg said, “Just like really with the Voting Rights Act, Republicans have some fundamental philosophical difficulties with the whole notion of Equal Protection.” And in 2012, he was counsel to the Romney campaign when it absurdly claimed that the Obama campaign was trying to suppress military voters by pushing for early voting for all Ohioans. Does that sound like the kind of guy you want leading a “non-partisan” voting commission?

More than likely, this commission will go nowhere.

Brad Blog is all over this, Obama Calls For Another Presidential Voting Commission – But Will It Mirror the Sham Baker/Carter Election Commission After 2004?

Ginsberg, in addition to representing Bush/Cheney in both of their campaigns, “also doubled as the legal adviser for the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” in 2004.

Indeed he did. At least until his work with the Swift Boaters came to light, and he was finally forced to resign from the Bush/Cheney campaign. The Swift Boat group was, at the time, established as a 527 political action group and was not supposed to be coordinating with campaigns. Their attacks on John Kerry, with Ginsberg advising them while a member of the Bush/Cheney campaign, was a very serious conflict of interest and perhaps a violation of the law.

Of course, that didn’t keep either Norm Coleman in 2008, or Mitt Romney in 2004, from hiring him again, of course. And, apparently, it hasn’t kept Barack Obama from tapping him to co-chair a commission on election reform.

Here we go again. Will this election “reform” be like the effort to fix the filibuster, and just enable more Republican obstruction of democracy?

Update: Meteor Blades at Daily Kos, Bipartisan voting commission that will be co-chaired by a voting suppressor not getting rave reviews,

While the new commission is not likely to produce much if anything more than the old one, the very least the president could do, as Berman suggests, is to get Ben Ginsberg to publicly sign a pledge that he will work to make sure every American eligible to vote actually gets an opportunity to do that. That would be a big switch from his long-term efforts directed at finding every obstruction he can think of to keep people—certain people, that is—from exercising, in President Obama’s words, “our most fundamental right as citizens.”

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