Former Chair Says He 'Was Deceived', EAC and Federal Efforts for Election Reform 'A Charade', 'Travesty'!
In Stark Contrast to Current EAC Chair, Rev. DeForest Soaries Blasts White House, Congress in Transcript of Unaired Interview from Major Broadcast Network!
The BRAD BLOG has obtained an EXCLUSIVE partial transcript from a recent, unaired interview by a major broadcast network with former U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) chair Rev. DeForest Soaries.
Soaries was appointed by George W. Bush as the first chair of the commission created by the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) in the wake of the 2000 Presidential Election Debacle. In the interview, available here for the first time, Soaries excoriates both Congress and the White House, referring to their dedication to reforming American election issues as "a charade" and "a travesty," and says the system now in place is "ripe for stealing elections and for fraud."
Having resigned from the commission in April of 2005, Soaries goes on to explain that he believes he was "deceived" by both the White House and Congress, and that neither were ever "really serious about election reform."
The explosive comments are the latest evidence highlighting serious deficiencies in the federal body, created by HAVA for oversight of elections systems, including new electronic voting devices, and standards for the use and security of those systems.
In the unaired interview, conducted last August, Soaries says there are "no standards" for voting systems and that Congress and the White House "made things worse through the passage of the Help America Vote Act."
Due to underfunding and lack of attention to the EAC and the Election Reform it was supposed to oversee, Soaries says we now have an "inability to trust the technology that we use" to count votes in our American democracy, even as "we’re spending a billion dollars a week in Iraq."
"We know more today about how to build a machine to take pictures of rocks on Mars than we know about how to build a machine to safeguard the American right to vote," complained Soaries in the interview.
On Electronic Voting System standards --- which HAVA mandated would be created by the EAC --- Soaries blasts both the White House and Congress for failing to supply them with the needed resources to complete the mandate, both for the federal government and the states that were relying on them to do so.
"[T]he states were forced to comply and they were asking us for guidance. We were ill-equipped to provide guidance. We didn’t begin our work until January 2004 and we spent the first three months of our work looking for office space. Here we were, the first federal commission, responsible for implementing federal law in the area of election administration and for the first three months we didn’t even have an address. And we physically had to walk around Washington DC looking for office space. This was a travesty. I was basically deceived by the leaders of the House, the Senate and the White House."
"Someone has got to be able to say, no one in America should use machine 'A' ever again," he says, in reference to the EAC's failure to decertify electronic voting systems even after they have been proven to be easily vulnerable to hackers and tampering.
"And if it’s not EAC," he continued, "it’s got to be someone. Someone in America has got to hold America accountable for protecting the most fundamental right in a democracy and that is the right to vote."
The straightforward comments from the EAC's first chair are in stark contrast to the actions of his Bush-appointed replacement, the current EAC head, Paul DeGregorio. The outgoing chair, DeGregorio, whose term has now ended, made news several days ago when it was discovered he had allowed the commission to withhold the release of a May 2006 report revealing claims of epidemic "Voter Fraud" --- as made by GOP operatives in order to push an agenda calling for restrictive, unconstitutional Photo ID laws at polling polaces --- are wholly unfounded.
Where Soaries was disappointed at the lack of interest by officials for true reform by the EAC during his tenure, his successor appears to have been using the post as an arm of the White House to continue its manipulation and perversion of the American electoral system.
UPDATE 7:27pm PT: The folks from KTLK in Los Angeles called to say they will have Soaries on the "Harrison on the Edge" show tonight to discuss this interview at 8:30pm PT. You can listen online here...
The transcript of Soaries comments, as taken from the unaired August 2006 interview are posted below…
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