Why the president’s commission is good

There has been a lot of commentary about the president’s election commission today, in response to the State of the Union speech.  This is a busy teaching day for me, so I can’t put in my full two cents on this one, so I’ll add my ha’penny.

The fact that election administration has attracted a partisan patina understandably should make anyone skeptical about whether a presidential commission can accomplish anything, and especially whether it can propose legislation that will pass Congress.

Nonetheless, I’ve learned over the past several years that having a smart, diverse group of people who care about elections talking about the important issues can only be a good thing.  Even if the commission doesn’t get anything passed through Congress, smart, engaged people in the states and localities will be paying attention.  Alas, this is what a functioning EAC would do, but it’s not functioning.  Why not goose the national conversation this way?  This is something the president CAN do.

So long as the commission is focused on issues like best practices and data-driven improvement, in the context of a diverse nation, how could the commission be a bad thing?

The right place to aim disappointment is at the context, not at the effort to do good, despite the context.