Um...Sort of.
By Brad Friedman on 3/23/2005, 5:43pm PT  

Today we attempted to get some more information about the "American Center for Voting Rights" (ACVR), a group who suddenly appeared on the Internet last Thursday. On Monday, they gave testimony to U.S. Congressman Bob Ney's (R-OH) House Administrative Committee during hearings held in Columbus, OH on the 2004 Election mess in the state.

(Please see this previous BRAD BLOG article for the emerging background on this supposedly "non-partisan" tax-exempt organization which was the only such "Voting Rights" group invited to give testimony at the hearings. And, oh yes, every single name attached to this group so far seems to also be attached to Bush/Cheney '04 Inc. and/or the Republican National Committee and/or the Ohio Republican party.)

Mark F. (Thor) Hearne, II --- the National General Counsel for Bush/Cheney '04 Inc. --- gave testimony for the group and is listed on the U.S. House Administrative Committee website as simply "National Counsel, American Center for Voting Rights". No mention of his current high-level connections to Bush/Cheney and his long history of working with other powerful Republican officials all the way back to his time working for the Reagan Administration.

We called him this morning to see if we could ask him a few questions about the ACVR, his involvement as their apparent-organizer and his role as lead contributor for the 31-Page report [PDF] on the Ohio Election produced by the ACVR in time for Monday's hearings.

Hearne's response, "Not right now...Send me some information about who you're involved with and I'll give you a call back."

We persisted nonetheless, and asked if he could describe any of the "voter education and outreach" programs which the "About Us" page at the ACVR website describes as one of their activities. Or if he could tell us about any of the "symposiums and conferences" the group claims to be sponsoring as also mentioned on the site.

His response, "We certainly anticipate those. You keep an eye on our website."

We pressed on...

BRAD BLOG: How is it that you guys were invited to testify for a U.S. House Committee hearing after just forming so recently?

MARK F. (THOR) HEARNE, II: You'd have to ask the [House] committee...

BB: But to be invited as the only such organization so quickly after being formed? How did that happen?

HEARNE: I couldn't tell you. We're out here doing what we're doing and we accepted the offer.

He was, indeed, rather terse in the answers to our attempted questions, and so we wondered why he didn't wish to be more forthcoming about his "non-partisan" group.

"Sounds to me like your coming from the Left," he told us.

We informed him that --- though we think didn't think any of our questions were particularly partisan or Left-like --- he might well say that we are indeed coming from the Left. Nonetheless, we consider free and fair elections to be a non-partisan issue. As his website claims to be a non-partisan organization, we figured he wouldn't mind answering some questions about it.

Mr. Hearne told us to "Email me some information on who you are and I'll get back to you."

We have done so and look forward to his call and a report here on his answers to some of our many concerns.

Next we tried a call to Jim Dyke who is listed as the "contact" in a press release issued Monday by AVCR.

Dyke, we have subsequently learned, also happened to have been the Communications Director for the Republican National Committee during the 2004 Election.

Perhaps he would be more open with us about this nascient group and their seemingly newfound concern for "Voting Rights" in America. Indeed, Dyke was much more willing than was Hearne to speak at length with us...

BRAD BLOG: Your website statement says that ACVR activities include "voter education and outreach", what sort of voter education and outreach has ACVR done?

JIM DYKE: It's a new group, so there's not been much voter outreach and education yet...The intention is to make people aware of the safe-guards that exist in some states to prevent voter fraud...Educating people about their rights to participate in the process as election witness and so forth.

BB: You claim to be a non-partisan, tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization, but so far it seems that the organization is run by all high-level Republicans like yourself...

DYKE: You'll see an expansion of participants from other legal minds as well as academic minds that come from both parties in the future...

We asked Dyke about the 31-page report they gave to the House Committee on Monday which purports to be about problems in Ohio's Election. We wondered why the only thing their report largely discusses is allegations that liberal and progressive Voter Registration groups signed up voters such as "Dick Tracy" and "Mary Poppins" and contentions that Registration Workers were being paid in crack cocaine.

This seems odd given the hundreds and, really, thousands of reports of actual Election Day "irregularities" in Ohio, including long lines where voters in heavy Democratic areas were forced to wait from 4 to 10 hours to vote in some cases, and many precincts having fewer voting machines for the General Election than they had during the Primary.

DYKE: The facts that are put forward in the Ohio report, is really a compendium of facts from police reports...there's no effort to make things up. We're working from actual reports...it's an effort to put things forward to give people greater confidence in our voting system.

Again, we pressed him about the documented reports and hours and hours of film footage showing such lines in predominately minority and Democratic precincts:

Yeah, on I that, I think what we did was look to evidence based in fact...I don't know if you read the testimony from the hearings...a man by the name of William Anthony who drove around...he said there were long lines everywhere, not just in minority precincts. So those reports are different from police testimony who said there were a hundred...or over a hundred reported incidence of voter registration fraud. It's not an accusation, it's something that's supported by police reports and court records.

BB: Most of the well-known Election Reform and Voting Rights groups, nearly 100 of them, have joined VelvetRevolution.us as Affiliates and have endorsed our "Divestiture for Democracy" campaign against the Voting Machine Companies. We are issue-oriented, not party-oriented, and as your organization claims to be in support of "Free and Honest" elections, I'd like to invite you to endorse our campaign, would you be willing to do so?

DYKE: Well, we'll look into. Send me some information about your organization and we can look into it.

BB: Where are you located, by the way?

DYKE: I'm Charleston, South Carolina.

BB: The Internic record for your group says you're a Dallas, TX group?

DYKE: That's the company that designed the website.

BB: I see. What company is that?

DYKE: I'd have to look into and get back to you.

BB: You don't recall their name?

DYKE: I'll have to check and get back to you on that.

For the record, here is a copy of the Internic record on AVCR (domain name - ac4vr.com) where Dyke is listed as both the Administrative and Technical Contact for the domain:

We asked Dyke about Hearne's statements to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in January of this year where he responded directly to a question about whether "a lot of voter fraud occur[ed]". Hearne responding by saying that "It would be hard...to see that you could commit voter fraud on a level that you can influence an election". And yet, Hearne's 31-Page report for the ACVR seems to display a change of heart about that, focusing as it does specifically --- almost exclusively --- on allegations of "criminal voter fraud" which they charge occurred prior to the election by the Voter Registration groups.

DYKE: The report, if you read it, is a combination of things. It points one, to voter registration fraud and two, some intimidation activity that happened there and three, third party litigation actions that occurred...against groups that were trying to remove the safeguards that would prevent the Dick Tracys from voting...Third party groups litigating to try and remove the need for any identification whatsoever to vote and so forth.

BB: But what about the long lines that occurred, isn't that also a concern?

DYKE: We're suggesting that the fact that there were long lines is more of an accusation than something for which there is actual documentation...For example, in our report, we note the danger of having 110% percent of the population registered on the voter rolls in some precincts...According to census data that was the case in many Ohio precincts....As far as the long lines, there was no effort to put 5 machines in one place and 2 in another as far as I know...I would refer you again to the William Anthony testimony on that who was actually there and spoke to that.

BB: Do you have any opinions about people in Ohio having to wait 10 hours to vote?

DYKE: We would hope that people could show up and vote as efficiently as possible. Election officials put safeguards in place...You know, as far as long lines go, there were attempts...you know removing the requirement to vote in your own precinct is something that would add all kinds of time to the voter lines...I mean, what if 10% of the voters decide to show up in another county and vote? That would add to the length of the lines exponentially.

BB: But it seems that are documented reports of fewer machines in many of these precincts during the general election than there were in the primaries. At Kenyon College, for example, where many waited up to 10 hours to vote in the general election, there were only 2 machines for thousands of voters and one of those broke down by lunchtime. In the meantime, there were 78 machines or so, as I recall, documented to have been sitting in storage unused on Election Day.

DYKE: Any documents you wanted to send us over on that we'd be happy to take a look at it.

BB: Did you review John Conyers' 102-Page report full of documented and sourced evidence? There were hundreds of documented reports of problems and irregularities in there. All sourced and documented and footnoted...

DYKE: I think that our legal counsel in Ohio reviewed all the relevant documents.

BB: Did they look at the Conyers report?

DYKE: I doubt in the presentation of factual evidence they looked at someone's elses report.

BB: But it was loaded with all sorts of documented and sourced reports and incidents as you suggested you were interested in. Confirmed reports, all footnoted and sourced and everything.

DYKE: Well, if you have anything, send it to us and we'll give it a look.

BB: The Conyers report?

DYKE: Sure, send it over.

BB: Okay, I will...You know, it just still seems strange that a group who just sort of showed up out of nowhere was invited...

DYKE: What's so strange about an organization based on election activities testifying about problems in an election? I'm not sure what's so unusual about that.

BB: Well, the fact there are so many groups who've been around for months and months, and frankly years, like Black Box Voting and Verified Voting etc. that were not invited to testify...

DYKE: Would you think it was unusual if [Velvet] Revolution was invited?

BB: Well, yeah...If we were established on Thursday, and then invited to testify at a U.S. House Committee hearing the very next day, yeah, I would find that unusual. Wouldn't you?

DYKE: No. I think this group's been around for a number of months working hard...The Ohio report is just one step. There will be a Pennsylvania report, a Wisconsin report, a Florida report. Keep an eye on our website."

BB: But you seem to have just been established last Thursday...

DYKE: The website wasn't up till Thursday, but we've been around for a few months...you know it takes some time to get a website up and operating.

BB: When did you receive your 501(c)3 status and would it be possible to send me a copy of that?

DYKE: I'd have to check with the lawyers...I'm not sure exactly. It's a new group formed over the past three months.

BB: I'd sure love to take a look at your 501(c)3 documentation if you were able to find out about that.

DYKE: I'll be happy to get back to you with that 501(c)3 information. I'll have to talk to our attorneys and get that from them and I'll be happy to get that to you.

We will, of course, keep you up to date when and if we receive the information as promised from Dyke. As well, we have now sent him the Conyers' Report and look forward to hearing back on that matter as well.

UPDATE 3/24/05: Hearne's testimony given to the U.S. House Administration Committee last Monday is now online! And he didn't bother to mention his ties to Bush/Cheney/RNC during the testimony! Go figure! Details here...

For more information on the "non-partisan" tax-exempt ACVR scam and the snakeoil salesmen who invented it, Bush/Cheney '04 National General Counsel Mark F. "Thor" Hearne and RNC Communications Director Jim Dyke, please see BRAD BLOG's full Special Coverage of the "American Center for Voting Rights" at http://www.BradBlog.com/ACVR.