In a just released statement [PDF], Tova Andrea Wang, a Democracy Fellow at the Century Foundation --- co-author of a report that the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) attempted to bury --- has announced that the federal commission of Presidential appointees has refused to allow her to speak directly about her report and the action taken by the EAC to alter its findings and hide her original report from public view.
Despite the controversy surrounding the bi-partisan report and Wang's desire to participate in the discussion as the report's co-author, the EAC --- at the heart of several controversies of late and increasing Congressional scrutiny --- has barred her from speaking about it.
"It has been my desire to participate in this discussion and share my experience as a researcher, expert and co-author of the report," Wang says in her statement. "Unfortunately, the EAC has barred me from speaking."
Her official legal requests have been ignored by the commission.
"Early last week, through my attorney, I sent a letter to the Commission requesting that they release me from this gag order. Despite repeated follow-up, the EAC has failed to respond to this simple request. In the meantime, not only can I not speak to the press or public --- it is unclear under the terms of my contract with the EAC whether I can even answer questions from members of Congress."
"As numerous press reports indicate, the conclusions that we found in our research and included in our report were revised by the EAC, without explanation or discussion with me, my co-author or the general public," Wang continues...
"From the beginning of the project to this moment, my co-author and I have been bound in our contracts with the EAC to silence regarding our work, subject to law suits and civil liability if we violate the EAC-imposed gag order."
Moreover, she goes on to add that from the time of the report's submission in July of 2006 until the EAC released its altered final version in December of 2006, she was never contacted by the EAC with concerns about the study. When reports surfaced that the EAC was revising the report before public release, she contacted the EAC, but according to her statement, "they refused to discuss with me the revisions, or the reasons such revisions were necessary."
Wang goes on to quote EAC commissioner Gracia Hillman's recent claims that the EAC seeks to "ensure improvements in the administration of federal elections so that all eligible voters will be able to vote and have that vote recorded and counted accurately."
In reply, Wang writes: "I share this aspiration. But I believe that the best way to achieve that end is not by suppressing or stifling debate and discussion, but by engaging in a thoughtful process of research and dialogue that ultimately arrives at the truth about the problems our voting system currently confronts."
BRAD BLOG readers will recall that Wang Guest Blogged here on the dubious subject of GOP "voter fraud" allegations but did not directly discuss the EAC report in that article.
We have invited her on several occassions to comment on the EAC's action, but she has declined in light of the contractual restrictions.
We have covered the issue of the gamed study, altered before release in order to whitewash the failure to find more than a handful of legitimate "voter fraud" issues, despite storied GOP claims of a massive epidemic, here and here.
-- Wang's original draft report on "Voter Fraud and Voter Intimidation" is posted here [PDF]
-- The EAC's altered report, retitled "Election Crimes: An Initial Review and
Recommendations for Future Study," is posted here [PDF].
At the time of the original report's release, the commission was chaired by Paul DeGregorio, a St. Louis colleague of high-level Republican operative Mark F. "Thor" Hearne who was involved in the study. Hearne's "non-partisan" group, "American Center for Voting Rights" (ACVR), has been pushing claims of "voter fraud" for years in order to help enact restrictive and disenfranchising Voter ID laws meant to keep Democratic-leaning voters from the polls.
The BRAD BLOG will have more on Hearne and the EAC's "voter fraud" report later today...
UPDATE 4/27/07: An EAC commissioner calls for Wang to be allowed to speak out! Details...