Thursday, May 17, 2007

Whitewash: After the 2004 election, the Election Assistance Commission ordered a study on vote fraud and voter intimidation throughout the country. The end result was, in a surprise for those of us who have seen no data indicating significant vote fraud, a study that said that vote fraud was a pervasive problem. Slate got their hands on a first draft, though, that says exactly the opposite — just like the chapter on global climate change in the EPA’s annual Report on the Environment, which was edited by political apparatchiks to downplay the evidence for global warming. What insight the draft of this paper on vote fraud lends us into this White House.

In their “predecisional” draft (excerpted below and on the following four pages) [Job] Serebrov and [Tova] Wang reported that “the only interviewee who believe[d] that polling place fraud is widespread” was Jason Torchinsky of the American Center for Voting Rights, a conservative organization that’s been accused of fronting for the GOP. (It’s Republicans who typically complain about voter fraud, because the allegations are usually directed at minority and low-income voters who tend to vote Democratic.) Most other interviewees, though not unanimous, showed “widespread … agreement that there is little polling place fraud” (Page 4). Nonetheless, the draft report observed, the Justice Department’s public integrity section is pursuing voter fraud cases energetically: “While the number of election fraud related complaints have not gone up since 2002 … the number of indictments the section is pursuing” against “alien voters, felon voters, and double voters” has risen substantially (Page 5).

Serebrov and Wang submitted their initial findings to be “vetted and edited” by an Election Assistance Commission working group. That’s when the hackwork began.

The final report asserts, falsely, that “there is a great deal of debate on the pervasiveness of fraud in elections.” Wang, the Democrat, has objected in writing that this and other revisions were made “without explanation or discussion.” A gag order in the original contract forbids her to discuss the matter. Serebrov, the Republican, isn’t happy either. The New York Times reported (subscription required) that he complained to a staffer for the Election Assistance Commission that neither consultant “was willing to conform [their] results [to] political expediency,” and that Serebrov “could care less that the results are not what the more conservative members of my party wanted.”


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