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Response to the Report of the 2005 Commission on Federal Election Reform

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Publication Date: July 2005

Publisher(s): Brennan Center for Justice

Author(s): Wendy R. Weiser; Justin Levitt; Catherine Weiss; Spencer Overton

Topic: Politics (Elections and voting)

Keywords: Voting After Criminal Conviction; Allegations of Voter Fraud; Voter ID

Type: Report


On September 19, 2005, the Commission on Federal Election Reform, co-chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker III, issued a report with recommendations for reforming the administration of U.S. elections. Unfortunately, the Commission did so after only two limited hearings and no call for public comment. The Commissions final report betrays the cursory nature of its study, proceeding in places based on anecdote and supposition, rather than on rigorous analysis and empirical fact. As a result, although a number of its recommendations could improve our electoral system, several of its suggestions would be damaging and should not be included in any proposal for election reform...This paper addresses the main substantive flaws in the Report, refuting in detail its recommendations that Real ID cards be used for voter identification, that Social Security numbers be spread through interstate databases and on ID cards, and that states restore voting rights to people convicted of felony convictions only in certain cases and only after they have completed all the terms of their sentence. These recommendations are ill-advised and should not set the standard for election reform in the states.