Obama asking Romney lawyer to take on long voting lines

February 12, 2013

It's no surprise that President Obama addressed voting reform in the State of the Union. But the president made news by announcing that he is asking a lawyer for Mitt Romney to co-chair a commission on the issue.

"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," the president said. "That’s why, tonight, I’m announcing a non-partisan commission to improve the voting experience in America. And I’m asking two long-time experts in the field, who've recently served as the top attorneys for my campaign and for Gov. Romney’s campaign, to lead it. We can fix this, and we will. The American people demand it. And so does our democracy."

Romney's top lawyer was Ben Ginsberg, who is also a major player in the campaign finance law community and a longtime Romney confidante. The Obama campaign's top lawyer was Bob Bauer, former White House counsel and an expert on election and campaign finance law,

Desiline Victor, a 102-year-old woman who waited hours in line to vote, was among First Lady Michelle Obama's guests at the speech. The Huffington Post reported earlier Tuesday that Obama was launching a commission on voting reform, which the president mentioned in both his acceptance speech and his inaugural address.

Obama later singled out Victor, a Miami resident, saying "her concern was not with her tired body or aching feet, but whether folks like her would get to have their say."

This post has been updated.

Rachel Weiner covers cops and courts in Arlington and Alexandria.
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Vincent Bzdek | February 12, 2013