Robert A. Pastor
About the Commission. American University’s Center for Democracy and Election Management (CDEM) is honored to organize the Carter-Baker Commission on Federal Election Reform, co-chaired by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James A. Baker, III. The twenty-one distinguished members of the Commission are leaders from the major political parties, academics and civic leaders from nonpartisan groups. During the next six months, they will examine the state of the electoral process in the United States and offer recommendations on improving it.
In conversations with President Carter and Secretary Baker, I was very pleased to learn of their willingness to co-chair a Commission to examine election-related issues. President Carter views the Commission’s mandate as trying “to define an electoral system for the 21 st century that will make Americans proud again.” Secretary Baker believes that “more can be done to guarantee the integrity and accuracy of our elections.”
Our nation owes them a great debt for accepting the challenge of leading this Commission. Both have been active contestants in the political arena, and both are statesmen who have served our nation with great distinction. They have also worked together before; most notably, in monitoring the 1996 elections in Nicaragua. We are very fortunate that they will be leading the group.
In Association and With Support. The Center for Democracy and Election Management, established in September 2002 to educate students and mid-career professionals and do public policy-oriented research on the management of elections and best practices in democracy, is organizing the Commission on Federal Election Reform in association with the James A. Baker, III Institute for Public Policy of Rice University, The Carter Center, and Electionline.org. Doug Chapin, Director of Electionline.org, is the Research Director, and Daniel Calingaert, the Associate Director of the Center for Democracy and Election Management, will be assisting the effort, together with other staff from the Office of International Affairs of American University. We are especially grateful for the support of American University, Carnegie Corporation, the Ford Foundation, the Knight Foundation, and Omidyar Network.
Research. The Commission is consulting with many scholars of the electoral process as an informal group of Academic Advisors. We are also constantly in touch with a network of advocacy groups and other non-governmental organizations with an interest in elections and election reform to ensure that all views and research are considered.
Schedule. As announced in its initial press
release on March 24th, the Commission will hold its first hearing at American University on April 18, 2005. The second hearing will take place at the Baker Institute in Houston, Texas, on June 30th. The Commission will then meet at The Carter Center in August to review research and a draft report, with the release of the final report scheduled for September 19th in Washington, D.C.
Democracy requires constant work. We are fortunate that so many distinguished individuals want to give their time and energy to improving U.S. elections. We hope the report will contribute to building full confidence in the electoral system and making all Americans proud.
Dr. Robert A. Pastor
Executive Director, Commission on Federal Election Reform
Director, Center for Democracy and Election Management