After recent Congressional oversight questioning by Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission's Bush-appointed chairwoman, Donetta Davidson, has finally relented and agreed to release the commission's bi-partisan report on "Voter ID" issues which has been held back for months. That report, and another not yet released on claims of "Voter Fraud" have been withheld by the EAC, as we reported here and here and in a guest blog by Tova Andrea Wang, one of the two original lead researchers of the still-withheld "Voter Fraud" report.
Hinchey's statement on today's release, including a call for the release of the other related reports, is posted here.
Finally having released the June 28, 2006, report [PDF] today, in the wake of Congressional pressure, and shamefully titling it as a "Draft Voter ID Report" (since it didn't show what they had wanted it to show), the EAC today announced the following:
In other words, they'll get the "facts" they want, no matter how many reports they need to commission!
The report details how voter participation in minority areas had, in fact, declined after restrictive "Photo ID" laws were enacted at the polls.
"It appears that politics remains the EAC's main priority," said Michael Slater, Deputy Director of Project Vote who claims the commission responsible for overseeing elections systems in the U.S. continues to "play politics." In a statement posted after the report was released today he said, "It's disappointing that the Commission is building a reputation for ignoring or suppressing research findings that don’t satisfy everyone’s ideological position."
He added that the commission's disassociation from the report is another example of their string of continuing failures. "The EAC should be embarrassed by its attempt to impeach the report's findings by insinuating its methodology is unsound."
Are supporters of Rep. Rush Holt's Election Reform Bill paying attention?! His bill, HR811, as currently drafted, would reward the EAC by making them a permanent body, despite their notable and repeated failures...
The GOP operatives behind the commissioning of these reports include Thor Hearne of the Republican front group ACVR who served as an "advisor" (and an unsuccessful one at that, apparently) on the "Voter Fraud" report, and his colleague from St. Louis, former EAC chair Paul Degregorio.
With the EAC's failure to find the "Voter Fraud" epidemic that Republicans had been hoping to invent, and reports of evidence showing that "Voter ID" suppresses minority votes, it's little wonder they tried to withhold the information from the American people, call this one a "draft," and decide to create another report with a different angle in order to try try again. That's what this bunch does, apparently.
True to form, of course, though the report was completed a full 9 months ago and Davidson had promised Hinchey she'd deliver it more than a week ago, they waited for a late Friday Document Dump to drop one of the reports in order to ensure as little media coverage as possible.
Holt's Election Reform Bill is currently set to make the EAC, which was originally commissioned only through 2005, a permanent body. Given the EAC's historical record of partisanship, duplicity, and out and out failure to meet its Help America Vote Act (HAVA) mandates, it's simply beyond us why Holt bill supporters are ready to give them a free permanent ticket to ride, instead of at least changing their sunset to 2008 to see how they perform in the next big election.
We don't have time right now to read the EAC's "Voter ID" report or cover it in full, so we'll associate ourselves with law professor Rick Hasen's appropriately skeptical coverage of the release, including other key links, over on his Election Law blog.
Hasen wonders, among other things, "Why did the EAC go so far as to disown the initial report?" and warns that "the moment for election reform is passing, and the chances for the EAC to be an honest broker that is above politics and that lets the chips fall where they may are fading."
CORRECTION: As originally published, the article above had referred to today's released report as the long-awaited and still-withheld EAC report on "Voter Fraud." Instead, the report released today was the EAC's long-awaited and no longer-withheld report on the effects of "Voter ID" restrictions at the polls. The BRAD BLOG regrets the error.