Politics Taint Election Assistance Commission

On December 7, 2006, the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) released its much-anticipated report on voter fraud and voter intimidation, entitled “Election Crimes: An Initial Review and Recommendations for Future Study.

The EAC's failure to lead on this issue is particularly troubling given the fact that the consultants hired to perform this study apparently reached radically different conclusions than those the EAC now espouses. While the EAC now claims that there is "no consensus" on the existence or pervasiveness of voter fraud, in a leaked earlier draft of this report, the bipartisan consultants concluded that "there is widespread but not unanimous agreement that there is little polling place fraud, or at least much less than claimed." The EAC has refused to explain this contradiction, refuses to release reports produced by the consultants, and appears to be denying the consultants the opportunity to explain their findings publicly.

Given the EAC’s behavior relating to this report, the agency is rapidly losing any credibility it had established as an impartial voice. The EAC is already operating with a partisan imbalance (with two Republican commissioners to one Democrat, and a Republican General Counsel as well). Furthermore, the President appears poised to nominate (and recess-appoint, if necessary) a GOP political operative with no election administration experience to the commission. It is no wonder that nonpartisan election experts have expressed concern over the direction of the EAC, with Loyola Law Professor Rick Hasen recently stating on his Election Law Blog that “Politics appears to be creeping in to decisions of the EAC's advisory board, and there's real concern about the EAC's vote fraud report.