UPDATE on the EAC 'Voter Fraud' Report Boondoggle
UPDATE on the EAC 'Voter Fraud' Report Boondoggle: NY Democrats Excoriate, Election Law Blogger Speaks Out, EAC Issues Statement Blaming Everyone But Themselves
- The Mess We've Been Warning About for So Long, Concerning the EAC, Finally Makes it to Prime Time...
BLOGGED BY Brad Friedman ON 4/11/2007 3:31PM
More on the EAC's "voter fraud" report boondoggle covered earlier today.
The New York Congressional delegation has sent us a statement (posted in full at the end of this article) in which Rep. Maurice Hinchey excoriates the behavior of the EAC in hiding, and then altering, the report's findings for political reasons.
"The draft report was commissioned with taxpayer dollars upon a mandate from Congress so that we could learn more about voter fraud and intimidation," says Hinchey. "The need for this report is even more clear when we see the way in which the Bush administration is carrying out the electoral process and how this system is sliding towards corruption."
"Slide towards" may be an understatement. Hinchey --- who requested that the original report be disclosed by EAC Chair Donetta Davidson, a Bush-appointee, during a recent Congressional hearing --- is a member of the House Administration Committee which is now considering Rep. Rush Holt's (D-NY) Election Reform bill, which will make the hopelessly partisan and haplessly incompetent EAC a permanent body for the first time in its short, controversial life.
New York's Rep. José E. Serrano, a member of the appropriations subcommittee which oversees the EAC, says he's concerned about the "partisan bias" apparent in the two different versions of the report.
"When you read the draft report side-by-side with the final version, it is clear that important conclusions of the experts who wrote the draft report were excluded from the final product. Among the excluded information is an analysis that undermines the notion that voter fraud is rampant," said Serrano.
Democrats, however, are not in the clear on this issue themselves...
As we reported several weeks ago, the two newest directors of the EAC were approved by unanimous consent by the U.S. Senate without oversight hearings on the Senate Rules and Administration Committee chaired by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
One of the two directors appointed to the commission had no Election Administration experience, as required by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) for appointment to the EAC, and in fact was a White House operative who had worked to challenge legally registered voters on Ohio's voting rolls during the 2004 election.
With the recent myriad failures at the EAC (too numerous to link to here, but a perusal through our EAC archives will give you a quick idea), it was an outrageous delinquency of Congressional oversight to approve those two appointments without holding hearings first.
Rick Hasen, at Election Law Blog, has more thoughts on the entire EAC/"Voter Fraud" debacle, pointing out a recent conversation he had with Indiana's Republican Sec. of State, Todd Rokita, one of the folks pushing the unsupported notion of "voter fraud" as reason to support disenfranchising Voter ID laws such as the one he has in his state. Rokita was a participant in the EAC's gamed studies.
As Hasen writes:
In the end, I get the sense that no amount of evidence from the most eminent political scientist would convince Sec. Rokita that voter fraud at the polling place is not a major problem. From the report: "Mr. Rokita stated that, 'We're not sure that fraud at the polling place doesn't exist. We can't conclude that.'"
Hasen added, "I fear that we will be studying the EAC's failures for many years to understand how not to engage in meaningful election administration reform."
The EAC has now posted a statement [PDF] in response to the controversy, in which they seem to put the blame on the folks contracted to do the study, rather than their own failures as the oversight and "clearinghouse" body they are mandated by HAVA to be.
They title their statement, tellingly, "EAC Statement Regarding Research & Contracting Policies." In other words, it was the fault of the contractors --- the Republican and Democrat who wrote the report, and who agreed that "voter fraud" is not the epidemic that GOP/EAC wishes --- who are to blame for the EAC having buried and altered the report.
The BRAD BLOG will have more on the EAC's dreadful failure to serve as a "clearinghouse" in the near future, and their delinquency in failing to warn state Elections Officials about the alarming, and recently discovered, vulnerabilities in a number of the electronic voting systems they are tasked with overseeing at the federal level.
The complete statement from the New York delegation follows in full below...
New York Congressional Delegation
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 11, 2007
Greater Transparency at Election Assistance Commission
Washington, DC - April 11, 2007 - Today, Congressmen Maurice Hinchey (NY-22) and José E. Serrano (NY-16) urged the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to act with greater transparency and without partisanship. The comments from the congressmen came as the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government released a draft version of an EAC report on voter fraud and intimidation that shows significant changes were made to the findings of outside experts before the final report was released.
"The EAC has an obligation to be forthright with the American people and operate transparently and in a non-partisan manner," said Congressman Hinchey, who requested the draft report from EAC Commissioner Donetta L. Davidson during a subcommittee hearing last month. "The draft report was commissioned with taxpayer dollars upon a mandate from Congress so that we could learn more about voter fraud and intimidation. The need for this report is even more clear when we see the way in which the Bush administration is carrying out the electoral process and how this system is sliding towards corruption In hiding a draft report from the public that is significantly different from the final version, the EAC has created a lot more questions than it is has answered while stunting debate on the issue. In order for our democracy to function properly it is essential that our elections are free of any corruption and that includes ensuring that the EAC does not work to benefit one political party over the other. To achieve that goal we must have all the facts and opinions on the table, not just some of them. The EAC must never limit discussion and debate."
"The EAC is charged with helping to ensure our elections are trustworthy and administered fairly," said Congressman Serrano, who is Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee that oversees the EAC budget. "I'm concerned if changes were made to the report on voter fraud because of partisan bias rather than impartial analysis. When you read the draft report side-by-side with the final version, it is clear that important conclusions of the experts who wrote the draft report were excluded from the final product. Among the excluded information is an analysis that undermines the notion that voter fraud is rampant.
"I am concerned that the EAC did not publicly release the taxpayer-funded draft report, and I worry that political considerations may have played a role. We cannot have a politicized EAC, or one that yields to outside pressure. Our democracy, and the American people's faith in it, is far more important than any short-term political advantage."
The draft report was written by outside experts under contract with the EAC. The final report was entitled "Election Crimes: An Initial Review and Recommendations for Future Study" and was issued on December 7, 2006.
The EAC is an independent bipartisan commission created by the 2002 Help America Vote Act in order to disburse funds to the states for the purchase of new voting systems, certify voting technologies, develop guidelines and serve as an information resource for election administration.