New Report from Discredited Baker/Carter 'Election Reform' Commission Dead-on-Arrival
Recommended Jim Crow-Style Photo ID Restrictions Seen as 'New Poll Tax', Roundly Criticized by Pols, Voting Rights Activists and Even Members of the Commission!
By Brad Friedman on 9/19/2005, 6:44pm PT  

Landing with a mighty thud today in the Nation's Capitol, the so-called Baker-Carter "National Commission on Election Reform" delivered precisely what true voting rights advocates in America had been warning about for months.

Most notably, the privately-funded, secretly-convened commission, which held just two hearings and refused to invite any real voting rights groups to participate, failed to even reach consensus amongst its hand-picked commissioners in it's final 113 page report.

One of those Commissioners, former Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD), criticized the Commission's number one recommendation --- the use of mandatory restrictive photo ID requirements at the polls --- as a "modern day poll tax." (As reported previously, Daschle's quote appeared in a Washinton Post article this morning by Dan Balz who also concluded, with no quotes or sourcing that "there has been no credible evidence of partisan manipulation of the election in Ohio." That despite the mountain of credible evidence of partisan manipulation of the 2004 election in Ohio. For a start, here is the recent indictment of two Ohio elections officials for gaming the recount, and here is another one who admits to receiving a $10,000 check from a Diebold rep and passing it to the RNC, and of course here's 102-pages of such evidence as published by a U.S. House Judiciary Committee Minority Report and another 700+ pages of such evidence found in a book recently published by FreePress.org...Just to give the tip of the iceberg.)

Another one of the Commissioners, Spencer Overton, a specialist in Election Law has gone so far as to set up a CarterBakerDissent.com website which decries both the procedures and the recommendations of the privately run "blue-ribbon" Commission.

The scathing dissent posted on Overton's site begins:

I am writing separately to express my dissenting views to the Carter-Baker Commission's photo ID proposal. Unfortunately, the Commission rejected my 597-word dissent and allowed me only 250 words (this limitation on dissent was first announced at our final meeting).

...And devolves from there in a crushing condemnation of Baker/Carter's Photo ID recommendations. As well, Overton pulls the curtain on the Commission's shoddy partisan procedures and lack of real input from experts, charging:

The Commission would have benefited from greater emphasis on expert testimony and empirical data, more transparency, clear rules established from the outset, and an adequate opportunity for dissent.

...and that the Commission "impose[d] rules that stifle[d] opposing views to give the false impression of consensus or to mask the substantive flaws in the commission's proposals." Overton goes on to add:

An advisory commission-especially one that purports to promote democracy-undermines its legitimacy when it attempts to advance its proposals by severely curtailing speech. More generally, a commission that prioritizes maximizing its own political influence over rigorous analysis compromises its credibility with the American people.

And that's from someone on the commission!

Overton promises a full analysis of the report on his site soon.

The report, so far, has faired no better on Capitol Hill. Congressmen John Conyers (D-MI) and John Lewis (D-GA), a long-time voting rights advocate who was beaten during the Bloody Sunday Marches --- which led to the landmark Voting Rights Act 40 years ago in Selma, Alabama --- where he marched alongside Dr. Martin Luther King have roundly condemned the Baker/Carter Commission's report. They describe the Voter ID recommendations as "discriminatory" and allege that these cynical recommendations would "make it harder for tens of millions of citizens to vote."

The Congressmen have written a letter to colleagues inviting them to join in introducing a resolution in the U.S. House stating opposition to new restrictive voting ID requirements and have announced that a Senate counterpart to the resolution will be forthcoming from Senator Barak Obama along with Minority Leader Reid, Senator Dodd, Clinton and Corzine.

A blog item this morning by Conyers expresses more details and outrage at Bush Family Crony James Baker's attempts to once again keep Americans from having their votes counted, as he so successfully accomplished on behalf of the Bush's during the 2000 Presidential Election in Florida. Conyers also announced he has set up the main page of his website as an action center to counter this latest assault on voters rights in America.

DNC Chairman Howard Dean released a statement late this afternoon echoing those sentiments and saying that "The DNC is concerned and disappointed that the Baker-Carter Commission on Federal Election Reform, over the strong dissent of some of its most distinguished members, has seen fit to support a 'national ID card' that threatens to deny the right to vote to millions of citizens who are lawfully registered and eligible to do so."

The statement from Dean goes on to add, referring to a recent study by the League of Women's Voters that found just 4 cases of voter fraud out of 9 million votes cast in the last two national elections in Ohio!:

"The commission's recommendations create additional bureaucratic barriers to the ballot box, despite the fact - as the Commission itself concedes - that there is simply no evidence of the kind of widespread impersonation fraud that could remotely justify imposing such a new obstacle."

Longtime Voting Rights Activist groups and citizen coalitions were similar appalled by the Baker/Carter recommendation. Here are just a handful of them and the reports they issued today:

At this time, the only unapologetically positive review of the report's recommendations that we've seen comes, unsurprisingly, from a press release given to the wires by the anti-American, anti-Democratic group of high-level GOP operatives calling themselves (cynically) the "non-partisan" American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR).

Mark F. "Thor" Hearne, general counsel for the ACVR (and also, coincidentally, for Bush/Cheney '04 Inc.) says in his predictably fawing statement:

"The Baker-Carter Commission's report represents a real step forward in the election reform debate...The American Center for Voting Rights congratulates Commission members for their work on this most vital issue."

The Press Contact listed on the report is Jim Dyke, the former Communications Director for the RNC. If you have any questions, the release says you may contact him at: 843-722-9670.

The phony group, which was instrumental in the creation of the Baker/Carter Commission, and --- unlike any real voting rights groups --- enjoyed the privilege of sitting on its "Advisory Panel." The ACVR has been revealed by The BRAD BLOG over a series of reports since the group's inception to be little more than a small band of partisan operatives attempting to smoke-screen the evidence of what really went wrong in Election '04. In the bargain, they've issued propoganda in the form of "reports" in an attempt to further disenfranchise American voters by giving the false impression that there is some sort of "voter fraud" epidemic in this country. Their scam website is here where you can follow the "joke" for yourselves.

The same shameful group of democracy hating opportunists were also exposed in a recent report by RAW STORY to have been instrumental in the creation of the Baker/Carter Commission expressly for the purposes of seeing Photo ID requirements mandated in order to disenfranchise millions of more Democratic-leaning voters.

More, no doubt, to come on Baker/Carter Report soon. The report can be read --- should you be able to stomach it --- along with its executive summary, here.

(Thanks to VotersUnite.org's John Gideon for help in compiling this report.)

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.