Bipartisan Federal Elections Review Commission Act Introduced

A bipartisan bill, HR 57, sponsored by U.S. Representatives Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Jim Leach (R-IA), was introduced on November 15, 2000 and reintroduced on January 3, 2001.  Please contact your Representative and urge him/her to co-sponsor this sensible legislation.

Representative DeFazio makes his case for the bill:  "Voting System Needs Scrutiny," Eugene Register-Guard, Dec 13.

It would establish a nonpartisan, 12-member commission to examine the advisability and feasibility of proportional voting systems, instant runoff voting, cumulative voting, and other election-related issues -- including the electoral college; voter registration options like same-day registration and universal registration; ballot access issues; mail-in balloting; internet voting; polling place closing times; ballot design; voting system technology; presidential debates; early voting; and other issues.

Membership on the commission would include a broad cross section of regional and political perspectives, and would include experts in the fields of federal election law, the U.S. Constitution, and United States history.

The Center for Voting and Democracy provided assistance and suggestions in the drafting of this bill. Passage of this legislation will boost electoral reform efforts nationally.

Members of Congress are starting to pay attention -- let's contact our representatives and get them to co-sponsor this legislation, the "Federal Elections Review Commission Act" (HR 57 in the 107th Congress).

You may contact your Member of Congress at 202-224-3121.

Text of the "Dear Colleague" letter that Reps. Leach and DeFazio sent around appears below.

The legislation appears below.  As with any piece of Congressional legisation, it can be accessed on line at Thomas. Just enter "hr 57" under "Bill Number" and be sure to search the 107th Congress.

Federal Elections Review Commission Act
(Introduced in the House)

HR 57 IH
1st Session

H. R. 57

To establish a commission to study and make recommendations with respect to the Federal electoral process.


January 3, 2001

Mr. DEFAZIO (for himself, Mr. LEACH, Mr. LAMPSON, Mr. MCGOVERN, Mr. FROST, Mr. MCNULTY, Mr. OLVER, Mr. CLEMENT, Ms. RIVERS, Mr. SANDERS, Ms. MCKINNEY, Ms. LEE, Mr. CARDIN, Mr. COSTELLO, Mr. WU, Ms. SLAUGHTER, Mr. OBERSTAR, Mr. KUCINICH, Mr. UDALL of Colorado, Mr. BALDACCI, Ms. PELOSI, Mr. BLUMENAUER, Mr. FILNER, Mr. SERRANO, Mr. EVANS, Mr. FARR of California, Ms. HOOLEY of Oregon, Mr. INSLEE, Mr. ISAKSON, and Mr. GILLMOR) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on House Administration


To establish a commission to study and make recommendations with respect to the Federal electoral process.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the `Federal Elections Review Commission Act'.


(a) ESTABLISHMENT- There is established a commission to be known as the Federal Elections Review Commission (hereafter in this Act referred to as the `Commission').

(b) PURPOSE- The purpose of the Commission shall be to study the nature and consequences of the Federal electoral process and make recommendations to ensure the integrity of, and public confidence in, Federal elections.

(c) MEMBERSHIP- The Commission shall be composed of 12 members, who shall be appointed as follows:

(1) Three members shall be appointed by the President pro tempore of the Senate based on recommendations by the majority leader of the Senate.

(2) Three members shall be appointed by the President pro tempore of the Senate based on recommendations of the minority leader of the Senate.

(3) Three members shall be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

(4) Three members shall be appointed by the minority leader of the House of Representatives.

(d) QUALIFICATIONS OF MEMBERS- Members shall be appointed to the Commission from among individuals who--

(1) have expertise in Federal election laws, the United States Constitution, and the history of the United States, or other pertinent qualifications or experience; and

(2) are not officers or employees of the United States.

(e) OTHER CONSIDERATIONS- In appointing members of the Commission, every effort shall be made to ensure that the members--

(1) represent a broad cross section of regional and political perspectives in the United States; and

(2) provide fresh insights to analyzing the Federal electoral process in order to maintain the integrity of, and public confidence in, such process.

(f) PERIOD OF APPOINTMENT; VACANCIES- (1) Members of the Commission shall be appointed not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this Act. Appointments shall be for the life of the Commission.

(2) Any vacancy in the Commission shall not affect the powers of the Commission, and shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment.

(g) INITIAL MEETING- Not later than 30 days after the date on which all members of the Commission have been appointed, the Commission shall hold its first meeting.

(h) CHAIRPERSON AND VICE CHAIRPERSON- The members of the Commission shall elect a chairperson and vice chairperson from among the members of the Commission.

(i) ADDITIONAL MEETINGS- The Commission shall meet at the call of the chairperson.

(j) QUORUM- A majority of the members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.

(k) VOTING- A vote of a member of the Commission with respect to the duties of the Commission shall have the same weight as the vote of any other member of the Commission.


(a) IN GENERAL- The Commission shall examine the nature and consequences of the Federal electoral process and make recommendations to ensure the integrity of, and public confidence in, Federal elections.

(b) SPECIFIC ISSUES TO BE ADDRESSED- The Commission shall examine and report to the President, the Congress, and the Federal Election Commission on, at a minimum, the following:

(1) The historic rationale for the electoral college, its impact on Presidential elections, and the advisability of its abolition or other options for reform, including the possibility for proportional allocation of electors within States.

(2) Voter registration issues, including same-day registration, universal registration, the impact of `motor voter' registration, and the accuracy of voter registration rolls.

(3) Ballot access issues, including the procedural hurdles that political parties must overcome to be placed on ballots, the role of mail-in balloting in Federal elections, and the distinction between mail-in and absentee balloting, including the uniformity or lack thereof of the deadlines for the receipt of ballots.

(4) Ballot design and technology issues, including the impact of the physical ballot design, the advantages and disadvantages of various technologies (including voting through the use of the Internet) used to cast and count votes, the feasibility and advisability of setting uniform national ballot design and technology standards, the impact of the language used on ballots, the simplicity of language, and the use of foreign language ballots.

(5) Election day polling place issues, including the impact of polling place closing times, the number and accessibility of polling places, the training of poll workers, and voter education.

(6) The feasibility and advisability of changing to multiple day elections, weekend elections, expanding early voting options, and limiting campaign activities (including advertising and fundraising) to a set period of time.

(7) The impact of winner-take-all voting, and the feasibility and advisability of election reforms such as instant runoff voting, proportional representation, and fusion balloting, with a particular emphasis on the impact on voter turnout and expanding political dialog.

(8) The unique problems faced in voting by members of the uniformed services, especially members stationed overseas, and options for reform of the voting process for such individuals.

(9) The presidential primary process and the presidential debate process, and options for reform of such processes.

(10) The costs of implementing various election reform proposals and options for paying for such proposals, including Federal cost-sharing.

(c) ANALYSIS OF IMPACT ON CERTAIN ISSUES- With respect to each of the issues referred to in subsection (b), in carrying out its examination and report the Commission shall take into consideration--

(1) the speed, accuracy, and security of votes and vote counts; and

(2) the impact on various demographic groups, including racial minorities, individuals with disabilities, residents of rural areas, and residents of urban areas.


(a) IN GENERAL- Not later than 12 months after the date of the initial meeting of the Commission, the Commission shall submit to the President and the Congress a final report including--

(1) the findings and conclusions of the Commission; and

(2) recommendations for addressing the problems identified as part of the Commission's analysis.

(b) SEPARATE VIEWS- Any member of the Commission may submit additional findings and recommendations as part of the final report.


(a) HEARINGS- The Commission may hold such hearings, sit and act at such times and places, take such testimony, and receive such evidence as the Commission may find advisable to fulfill the requirements of this Act. The Commission shall hold at least one hearing in the District of Columbia, and at least four hearings in other regions of the United States.

(b) INFORMATION FROM FEDERAL AGENCIES- The Commission may secure directly from any Federal department or agency such information as the Commission considers necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act. Upon request of the chairperson of the Commission, the head of such department or agency shall furnish such information to the Commission.

(c) POSTAL SERVICES- The Commission may use the United States mails in the same manner and under the same conditions as other departments and agencies of the Federal Government.


(a) COMPENSATION- Each member of the Commission shall be compensated at a rate equal to the daily equivalent of the annual rate of basic pay prescribed for level IV of the Executive Schedule under section 5315 of title 5, United States Code, for each day (including travel time) during which such member is engaged in the performance of the duties of the Commission.

(b) STAFF- (1) The chairperson of the Commission may appoint staff of the Commission, request the detail of Federal employees, and accept temporary and intermittent services in accordance with section 3161 of title 5, United States Code.

(2) The employment of an executive director of the Commission shall be subject to the approval of the Commission.

(3) The rate of pay for the executive director and other personnel of the Commission may not exceed the rate payable for level V of the Executive Schedule under section 5316 of such title.


The Administrator of General Services shall provide to the Commission on a reimbursable basis such administrative support services as the Commission may request.


The Commission shall terminate not later than the date that is 30 days after the date the Commission submits its final report under section 4.


There are authorized to be appropriated $2,000,000 for the Commission to carry out this Act.

Dear Colleague Letter

Is There A Better Way to Elect Federal Officials?
If you want to find out, cosponsor H.R. 5631 (now H.R. 57 in the 107th Congress - ed)

Dear Colleague:

A healthy democracy requires the unquestioned legitimization of elections and public confidence in government institutions. Unfortunately, these cornerstones are being eroded by the ongoing election disputes in the presidential race and various congressional contests around the country.

To help restore the integrity of, and public confidence in, the federal electoral process, we have introduced legislation (H.R. 5631) (in the 106th, H.R. 57 in the 107th - ed ) to create a non-partisan Federal Elections Review Commission. The commission would be made up of experts in election law, the U.S. Constitution, and U.S. history, not elected officials or party loyalists. The Commission would not be looking into allegations of irregularities in the most recent election.

Rather, the Commission would take a broader, systemic look at a variety of aspects of federal elections including: 

  • The Electoral College
Voter registration rules
Varied ballot designs, technology for counting ballots, and rules for mail-in and absentee ballots
Poll locations, closing times, and training of poll workers
A variety of other reforms such as moving to weekend voting, limiting campaigns to a set period of time, and alternative voting options like instant run-off voting

The Federal Elections Review Commission would then make recommendations to Congress on what reforms may be necessary to restore public confidence in elections and improve voter turnout.

If you would like to cosponsor this legislation, please contact Tom Vinson (ph: 5-6416) in the office of Representative DeFazio.





Member of Congress

Member of Congress