Two MSM Articles Today Detail Long Overdue Congressional Scrutiny Finally Coming to Bear Against the Agency of Presidential Appointees Responsible for Overseeing the Entire U.S. Election System
As well as a Newly Noted Connection Reported Between the EAC and the Politically Appointed Bush Players at DoJ...
By Brad Friedman on 4/23/2007, 4:32pm PT  

Given all of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC)'s extraordinary failures of late, there's little time for the moment to review them all. See our EAC category page for the tip of the iceberg.

That said then, two notable articles are published today which go to town (and rightly so) on the EAC, detailing just some of their most recent failures --- namely, their withholding and/or rewriting of two important reports for clearly partisan reasons, but at whose direction? --- and the newly awakened Congressional response to those failures. As well, a few names are named that are names we've heard named before as being at the center of the politicization of the DoJ's Civil Rights voting unit, but popping up again over at the EAC. Whodathunkit?...

National Journal's Eliza Newlin Carney files a piece headlined "Election Assistance Commission Under Fire" in which she details the Congressional pressure the EAC is finally beginning to feel ('bout damned time!):

The creation of the EAC --- which is charged with advising and doling out federal money to states, certifying voting equipment and acting as an information clearinghouse --- was a centerpiece of the HAVA [Help America Vote Act]. Yet problems at the EAC, along with the questionable security of touch-screen voting machines, are "glaring examples" of how the HAVA "is actually impeding the electoral process here," [Rep. Maurice] Hinchey [(D-NY)] declared.

No doubt Hinchey's comments reference, in no small part, this recent blockbuster BRAD BLOG story pointing out that ES&S touch-screen voting systems have a newly discovered vulnerability allowing for an undetectable vote-flipping virus to be implanted on them, and the EAC's refusal to warn states about it. A blockbuster maybe, but the rest of the MSM, and certainly the EAC, have taken pains to ignore it.

We're glad to see that Hinchey doesn't seem to have done the same. His office has been quite good on some of these issues of late.

And on the EAC's dismal, politicized performance on their gamed "Voter Fraud" and Voter ID reports, Carney writes:

[A]dministration officials have portrayed voter fraud as a huge and growing problem, and state legislators have cited it to justify a slew of newly-enacted laws that ban voting without an ID. The EAC could have advanced the debate with some definitive research. Instead, the commission hired experts to conduct a voter fraud study - then proceeded to rewrite their findings.
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Similarly, commission research on the impact of voter ID laws could have informed state laws and even a recent Supreme Court case, but the EAC failed to release it in time. A Rutgers University study on the impact of voter ID laws was completed by the summer of 2006, according to the Brennan Center, but the EAC suppressed it until lawmakers demanded its release. Among other findings, the Rutgers study concluded that ID requirements can depress turnout, particularly among minority, elderly or urban voters.

"I think [EAC commissioners] were compromising based on political considerations," said Brennan Center lawyer Wendy Weiser.

Over at Congressional Quarterly today the theme is similar in David Nather's "Election Board Facing Votes of No Confidence," featuring this passage which seems to detail an extraordinary state of denial at the EAC, as indicated by their chairperson, Donetta Davidson:

Davidson, who was previously Colorado’s secretary of state, says the biggest problem was that the commission may have been trying to move too many reports with a small staff that mostly works with outside contractors rather than producing its own research. “I think that was our biggest mistake — being too aggressive,” she said. “We just took on too much.”

Being "too aggressive"?! Yeah, that's the problem, Donnetta.

Loyola Election Law professor Rick Hasen aptly counters in the piece, "With all the problems we’re having with elections in this country, we need bold leadership, and they’re not providing it."

Finally then, there's this passage from the CQ article, naming a few names of note that have come onto our radar with some frequency of late, and placing the DoJ in the middle of the EAC's business. Again, it's the same old GOP/Bush-appointee playahs gaming the system and showing up time and again in these matters:

[T]he back story of one incident with the voter fraud report — in which two Justice officials secured changes to the summaries of their interviews for the report — suggests the department was more than a bystander in the voter fraud study.

In the appendix, which summarizes all of the expert interviews conducted for the fraud report, two Justice officials’ interviews are included: Craig Donsanto, director of the Election Crimes Branch of the Public Integrity Section, and John Tanner, chief of the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section. In both cases, a footnote declares that “this interviewee did not agree with the consultants’ interpretation of his interview comments” and that the commission made “clarifying edits.” No such note accompanies any of the other expert interviews.
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Peggy Sims, an election research specialist at the commission who managed the project, agreed and had it changed.

That appendix to the altered final "Voter Fraud" report, and the comments amended, are here for your review [PDF].

Donsanto and Tanner. Jot down their names. Keep 'em handy. They will be coming up again. Sims is a new one to us, so we welcome any thoughts anyone might have on her.