liberal ["liberalis" L - suitable for a freeman, generous; "eleutheros" Gk - free] (adj) generous, open-minded, not subjugated to authoritarian domination; (n) one who believes in liberty, universal suffrage and the free exchange of ideas. elite ["eslire" Fr -- to choose fr.L "eligere" -- choose] (n) the choice part; best of a class; the socially superior part of society.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Dems lose bid for control of Congress

The information on the upcoming elections is looking worse and worse for the minority party.

In a press release on Thursday, BushCo, among other frightening threats, announced its intention to nominate Caroline C. Hunter to be Commissioner of the Elections Assistance Committee. It's bad enough that she's a BushCo nominee, and has been serving in the White House until now as BushCo's Deputy Director for the Office of Public Liaison. In other words she's a PR person. Worse, among her other impressive former titles, including Deputy Counsel for the Republican National Committee, she holds no credentials or experiences qualifying her for her new appointment.

Warren Stewart at VoteTrust USA points out that
Title 2, Section 203 of HAVA clearly requires that “Each member of the Commission shall have experience with or expertise in election administration or the study of elections.”

The Senate asked to rubber stamp another BushCo illegality in violation of the Commission members' HAVA requirements? I wonder whether anybody at the nomination hearing will notice.

Some people outside of the Senate have noticed, though. This chilling letter was unearthed by Dan Tokaji. It reveals that Hunter did the dirty work for BushCo in 2003 by threatening tv stations with FCC trouble if they ran the DNC advertisement showing il Duce lying in the State of the Union Address--something about Saddam seeking uranium from Africa. Tokaji makes some other interesting observations about Hunter and her predecessor, Paul deGregorio, too.
[T]there's reason to be concerned that this is someone who's being appointed not for her qualifications, but rather to look out for the political interests of the party to which she belongs.

Contrast Hunter with the outgoing Chairman in terms of experience, qualifications and reputation. As Tokaji shows,
What's troubling about this announcement, at first blush, is that it's not clear that Ms. Hunter possesses the qualifications for the job. All of the prior EAC commissioners, Democrats and Republicans alike, have been people with substantial relevant experience.

Stewart echoes Takaji's reservations.
Given the current crisis in the administration of our nation’s elections and the complex and critical issues that the EAC will face in the coming years, it is deeply troubling that the White house has chosen a nominee with no experience with election administration or the study of elecions.

As Dan Balz and Zachary Goldfarb pointedly open in their article in today's Washington Post,
An overhaul in how states and localities record votes and administer elections since the Florida recount battle six years ago has created conditions that could trigger a repeat -- this time on a national scale -- of last week's Election Day debacle in the Maryland suburbs, election experts said.

Unfortunately, the WaPo piece doesn't zero in on magnitude or the partisan nature of the disenfranchisement problem, except in a couple of tiny paragraphs buried near the end (paragraphs 28 & 29)
Democrats and Republicans remain at odds over voter registration rolls. The Brennan Center for Justice, a liberal advocacy group, recently showed that properly registered voters in Florida, New Jersey and Kentucky were being removed from voter databases through electronic purges.

"Voter suppression doesn't happen with intimidation on Election Day, but rather through silent and sometimes secret government actions in the weeks leading up to an election," said Michael Waldman, the center's executive director.

We've got a problem. Above all the spin and mud-slinging of a hard fought, albeit corporate-funded election, the system has to provide for nonpartisan oversight that safeguards the whole process from contamination by the partisanship and corruption so rampant throughout corporate America, our military and Congress. The Hunter appointment, above all else, fails in this most important regard, too, a fatal flaw in a time when the fairness--or even the occurrence--of elections is so questionable. Democracy isn't safeguarded by having elections. Even Stalin and Castro had elections.

Democracy means having fair, accurate and transparent elections. Are our chances of that going up with the Hunter appointment? Her appointment, rather, is intended to counter the fulfillment of those requirements.

As Takaji says, The worry is that the EAC will become an agency in which the commissioners view their roles as protecting the interests of their parties, rather than promoting a better functioning election system as HAVA originally promised. That would likely lead to stalemates along party lines, which would effectively paralyze the EAC and destroy its ability to serve as an effective instrument for election reform.


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