Comprised Federal Election 'Oversight' Board Becomes Still More Unaccountable and Compromised as Senate Democrats Approve RNC's Civil Rights Foe as New Head Despite Illegal Lack of Election Administration Experience...
By John Gideon on 2/16/2007, 11:38am PT  

Guest Blogged by John Gideon

As much as we may disagree with People for the American Way (PFAW) of late concerning their position fully supportive of the deeply flawed and potentially quite dangerous Holt Election Reform Bill (HR811), we think they're dead right on this issue, from a press release sent to The BRAD BLOG today (full release at end of this article)...

The Senate Did What?

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Senate confirmed last night by unanimous consent the nominations of Caroline Hunter and Rosemary Rodriguez to the Election Assistance Commission, approving the nominations without debate and without recorded roll call votes. The nomination of Hunter, a partisan operative with no experience in election administration, had been widely criticized by civil rights and voting rights advocacy groups.

The confirmations took place even though the Rules Committee had not yet considered the nominations, and no hearings were held.

And PFAW Director Ralph Neas had this to say:

“We are deeply disappointed that the Senate did not take to heart its responsibility to provide open, transparent oversight of the EAC through this confirmation process,” said PFAW President Ralph G. Neas. “Confirming these nominees under the cover of night sends exactly the wrong message to millions of Americans who are counting on Congress to improve our nation’s election system. It’s too late to get these confirmations right, but it is not too late to improve oversight of the EAC. We will strongly support congressional efforts to enact additional EAC oversight and reporting requirements.”

The full press release from PFAW is below, followed by details on just why the RNC's former White House liason, Ohio 2004 operative and White House employee, Caroline Hunter, should be a great concern to democracy lovers as well as Democrats in the Senate, who have failed here to perform their mandated oversight duties...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 16, 2007

CONTACT: Nick Berning or Stacey Gates at 202-467-4999 / media@pfaw.org

The Senate Did What?

Questionable EAC nominee confirmed yesterday with no hearing and no oversight, underscoring need for reform

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Senate confirmed last night by unanimous consent the nominations of Caroline Hunter and Rosemary Rodriguez to the Election Assistance Commission, approving the nominations without debate and without recorded roll call votes. The nomination of Hunter, a partisan operative with no experience in election administration, had been widely criticized by civil rights and voting rights advocacy groups.

The confirmations took place even though the Rules Committee had not yet considered the nominations, and no hearings were held. People For the American Way, which has made election reform the key priority in its 2007 legislative agenda, strongly criticized the lack of transparency in the confirmation process and called for additional oversight and reporting requirements for the EAC.

“We are deeply disappointed that the Senate did not take to heart its responsibility to provide open, transparent oversight of the EAC through this confirmation process,” said PFAW President Ralph G. Neas. “Confirming these nominees under the cover of night sends exactly the wrong message to millions of Americans who are counting on Congress to improve our nation’s election system. It’s too late to get these confirmations right, but it is not too late to improve oversight of the EAC. We will strongly support congressional efforts to enact additional EAC oversight and reporting requirements.”

Neas added that the lack of transparency was particularly significant in this case because the nomination of Hunter had been widely criticized, and because the EAC has suffered a series of stumbles in recent months. In particular, the EAC has been criticized by nonpartisan academics and commentators for failing to disclose its decreditation of Ciber Labs, which certifies election equipment used by two-thirds of the country, and for an extremely problematic change of course on a recent voter ID study it commissioned.

“Hearings are always important, but they are especially important when a nomination faces questions like the ones that were swirling around the nomination of Caroline Hunter,” Neas said. “We’re talking about putting a partisan political operative with no election administration experience in a position that could affect the outcome of the 2008 elections. It’s not like the EAC doesn’t have enough problems already. Hopefully this will serve as a teachable moment and will motivate members of Congress to enact comprehensive election reform.”

The EAC, which was created by the Help America Vote Act of 2002, is responsible for producing guidelines for the use of election technology, establishing recommended minimum election administration standards for states, and distributing funding to states to help them meet HAVA requirements.

###

And why is there a concern about Caroline Hunter? As pointed out by Warren Stewart at VoteTrustUSA:

"In her role as Deputy Counsel to the Republican National Committee, Ms. Hunter assisted the RNC and State Parties in some way with HAVA implementation. She also defended the RNC's attempt to use a list of over 23,000 names for challenges in the 2004 presidential election in Ohio."

The Help America Vote Act of 2002 is the defining law concerning the mandated qualification of EAC commissioners. It mandates that commissioners “shall have experience with or expertise in election administration or the study of elections.” Hunter has voted in the past, we can only assume, and that seems to be her only experience with election administration or study of elections beyond her partisan work for the RNC.