The U.S. House Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties will be holding a hearing this Thursday on "Lessons Learned from the 2004 Presidential Election."
Though no press release has yet been sent out by the Committee, and the link to the hearing's page at the Judiciary website is currently broken, The BRAD BLOG has both good news and bad news to report here.
The good news: Ohio's former Sec. of State J. Kenneth Blackwell has been invited to testify and has confirmed that he will actually show up this time, according to several Judiciary sources. Blackwell had previously snubbed the committee's earlier invitation to testify back in February about the myriad crimes that were committed on and by his watch in the 2004 Presidential Election.
Following his last refusal to appear --- when he responded to the committee claiming "my schedule will not permit me to attend the hearings" --- Judiciary Committee spokesperson Jonathon Godfrey hinted that a subpoena might be forthcoming if Blackwell continued to refuse to appear. This time, at least as of today, it looks like he's coming, according to confirmation by Godfrey this afternoon. Thus guaranteeing what should be a very lively hearing.
More good news: Shameless GOP "voter fraud" zealot and disgraced former FEC chair Hans Von Spakovsky will also be appearing. By invitation of the Republicans on the committee, amusingly enough. What were they thinking in inviting this embarrassment? Beats us, but we're happy to hear he'll be back on the Congressional hot seat. Thanks Repubs!
And then there's the bad news...
The rest of the witness list has some enormous holes in it, particularly when it comes to the issues that will be of greatest concern this November. Moreover, sources tell The BRAD BLOG that, given a busy legislative schedule, this may well be the final hearing on elections in the committee prior to November.
Matthew Segal, Executive Director of the Student Association for Voter Empowerment (SAVE), told The BRAD BLOG this afternoon that he was disappointed that nobody seemed to be invited to this perhaps final hearing prior to the '08 election to speak on either e-voting or youth voting issues.
"There is no one on electronic voting, no one on student voter access, and, basically, no one from any groups or organizations that really represent any grass roots constituencies," he told us in a phone call today.
Rounding out the witness list will be election law and voting rights professor Daniel Tokaji of Ohio State's Moritz College of Law and the Baltimore School of Law's Gilda Daniels, formerly an attorney at both the DoJ's Civil Rights Division, Voting Section, and at the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights. Both were invited by the Democrats on the committee.
In addition to von Spakovsky, the Republicans have scheduled campaign finance and lobbying attorney, GOP "strategist" Cleta Mitchell (watch her get spanked madly by our friend Cliff Schecter during an appearance on MSBNC just prior to the 2006 election, wherein Mitchell attempted to downplay the myriad GOP scandals, such as Mark Foley's, as little more than "politically motivated").
Sadly, as Segal noted, there will be nobody to discuss the fact that it's strictly impossible to know if any vote ever cast on a touch-screen (DRE) voting machine --- in the past or in the future --- has been recorded accurately, as per the voter's intent. There will be nobody to discuss the fact that even paper ballots, counted by electronic systems, cannot be presumed to have been accurately tabulated, since optical-scan systems are prone to failure, easily hacked, and almost never verified as actually able to count ballots as they were cast.
Moreover, despite thousands, even millions, of students in Ohio and elsewhere being tossed off of voting rolls, denied the right to vote where they go to school, and required to wait in line until 2 am to cast a vote back in 2004 --- as Segal can testify firsthand, based on his experience at Kenyon College in Ohio in '04 --- there will again be nobody to represent the concerns about the Youth Vote, even in a year when student turnout will be so critical to Democrats.
Finally, if, in fact, this proves to be the last election-related hearing in Judiciary prior to November, that means the GOP/White House/Rove top-dog, go-to voter suppression/vote-caging attorney/snake-oil salesman Mark F. "Thor" Hearne, will never have been held accountable for his years of "voter fraud" propaganda since 2004 --- despite the mountains of material we've reported on him for the past four years --- nor will he have to answer to exactly who supplied the nearly $1 million he received to run his "non-partisan," tax-exempt, American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR) anti-democracy scam.