Are We Ready For The Next Election? Public Comment Period Opens
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by Causes | 3.14.18
UPDATED March 15, 2018: The FEC released draft rules on Wednesday, referenced in Countable's original story, regarding disclaimers on internet political ads stating who paid for the advertisements.
One option proposed would involve the same level of transparency for tv and radio ads. The other would be a modification to only apply general disclaimer requirements that exist for all public communications, rather than the more stringent requirements for broadcast.
The FEC is requesting public comment for the next 60 days, meaning that the new rules will not be in place for all of the 2018 elections, if any.
Countable's original story appears below
What’s the story?
Two key components of elections -- campaign finance and election security -- are struggling to gain a spot on the list of federal and state priorities leading into the 2018 and 2020 elections.
Recent questions about payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels just prior to the 2016 presidential election were referred to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), but what is the FEC anyway?
The FEC, explains the Washington Post, "the FEC is responsible for enforcing federal election regulations. It audits reports submitted by campaigns of their spending and fundraising and investigates complaints filed against federal candidates and their campaigns."
The FEC has six commissioners, four of whom are currently serving expired terms. Two spots are open, but the Trump administration has only made one nomination. No confirmation hearing is scheduled. If any currently sitting commissioner resigns, no new rules can be voted into place.
The FEC currently working on new rules that would require greater transparency about the sponsor of online ads, a response to Russian interference in the 2016 elections.
Meanwhile, states are preparing for the 2018 midterms, with electronic voting machines, ProPublica has discovered, in at least 2/3rds of counties that are at least 10 years old. Machines are reaching the end of their life cycle, and parts and operating systems are often obsolete, forcing local election officials to resort to cannibalizing retired machines and shopping eBay to find replacements.
The federal government has not dedicated significant funding to election infrastructure since the 2002 Help America Vote Act, and voting systems tend to be low on the totem pole in state budget priorities. Some states don’t even fund elections, leaving costs entirely in the hands of counties, regardless of their tax base.
The Secure Elections Act, introduced by Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) in December 2017, would provide federal money for election infrastructure, but is currently sitting in the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration.
What do you think?
Should the administration prioritize nominations for the FEC and push for confirmation hearings? Should the Senate get moving on the Secure Elections Act, in order to fund voting system upgrades or replacements? Do you feel confident about the state of our elections, or not? What would make you feel confident, if you aren’t currently?
Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!
— Asha Sanaker
(Photo Credit: Fairfax County via Flickr / Creative Commons)
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