(CNN) — Taking steps to make good on a pledge from his State of the Union Address, President Obama signed an executive order Thursday that establishes a bipartisan panel to address long lines at polling stations and other voter irregularities.
“When any Americans – no matter where they live or what their party – are denied that right simply because they can’t wait for five, six, seven hours just to cast their ballot, we are betraying our ideals,” Obama said during the State of the Union. “We can fix this, and we will. The American people demand it. And so does our democracy.”
The new panel will be led by two leading election lawyers from each party, Benjamin Ginsburg and Robert Bauer. Ginsburg has served as counsel to the Republican National Committee and most recently to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign while Bauer is the former White House counsel under President Obama.
“I’m asking two long-time experts in the field, who’ve recently served as the top attorneys for my campaign and for Governor Romney’s campaign, to lead it,” Obama also said during the State of the Union. “We can fix this, and we will. The American people demand it. And so does our democracy.”
The panel only has the power to make recommendations. State and local authorities are tasked with administering elections and ultimately have the final say on resource allocations. Moreover, only Congress has the power to create national standards around early voting, voter ID laws and means of registration.
The US Supreme Court heard challenges to the Voting Rights Act earlier this month which could allow states to make voting more restrictive.
CNN’s Jessica Yellin contributed this report
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