Tag Archives: EAC

Maintaining Accurate Voter Rolls: The Dirty Work Behind Clean Elections

Maintaining accurate voter rolls is a never-ending task “akin to doing laundry,” says U.S. Election Assistance Commission chairman Matthew Masterson. Conducting statutorily required voter list maintenance is also “an important part of protecting the integrity of our nation’s elections.”

Voter list maintenance is not a new concept born of recent controversies and allegations. In fact, the sustained list maintenance effort to improve the accuracy of voter registration rolls traces back to the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), commonly referred to as the “motor voter” law. NVRA not only facilitates the ease of voter registration at motor vehicle offices and public assistance offices, but it also prescribes the process for updating and proper removal of outdated voter records via data shared between counties, across states, by departments of health and motor vehicle offices, the United States Postal Service and a variety of other data sources.

Masterson continues, “Nobody wants an accurate voting roll more than the officials who administer elections.” Some election officials, yes, but not all.

 

Multiple jurisdictions across the country have been successfully sued under the NVRA for failing to do the required dirty work of maintaining accurate voting rolls, including four Mississippi counties and two Texas counties. Hundreds more have more registered voters than citizen voting age-eligible population.

EAC seeks clarity on DHS election role

We still don’t know what it means.”

 

U.S. Election Assistance Commission chairman Thomas Hicks says the EAC plans to meet with Department of Homeland Security officials on February 2 so DHS can answer questions about its designation of state voting systems as “critical infrastructure.”

“We’re hoping to have a forum to ask DHS and the Trump administration what the designation means and does it go forward” under the new administration, Hicks said.

EAC Commissioner Christy McCormick wrote a scathing criticism of DHS’ unilateral action to impose the critical infrastructure designation, which she described as a “purely political” decision that “blindsided” state election officials and the EAC.

EAC commissioner scathes DHS for decision to designate election systems “critical infrastructure”

U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) Commissioner Christy McCormick issued a scathing statement Saturday denouncing the Department of Homeland Security’s Friday-night designation of state and local election systems as “critical infrastructure.”

 

McCormick says DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson’s unilateral decision “appears to be purely political” and “blindsided” state election officials and EAC Commissioners.

 

McCormick raises a number of concerns about the substance of DHS’ action: the scope and effect of the designation isn’t known; it politicizes elections and creates a layer of non-transparency and unnecessary federal bureaucracy; the “Russian hacking” justification is thin at best; and the designation opens States to legal, financial and privacy liabilities.

 

But the sharpest criticism is aimed at DHS’ process. McCormick calls it “disingenuous, at best,” which helps explain the high level of mistrust the agency’s action has engendered:

This designation blindsided election officials, who were not provided an adequate opportunity to engage in the decision-making process. While DHS claimed that it would publish notice of the consideration of the designation in the Federal Register and provide a comment period, it did not do so. Additionally, DHS set up an “Election Infrastructure Cybersecurity Working Group,” which included some of the Secretaries of State, to participate in the process, but it effectively never utilized that group. It is obvious to me that Secretary Johnson discarded and dismissed the opinions and concerns of the Secretaries and of the EAC Commissioners, the very people who actually have deep professional experience in conducting and administering elections in this Country, before making this decision.

 

DHS officials represent that they are speaking for the Federal Government, but this Federal agency, the sole mission of which is to assist the States and local election officials in the administration of elections, and which sets the national guidelines for voting systems and tests and certifies those systems, and is a clearinghouse for the best practices in election administration, speaks for itself, and it does not agree with this designation. While this statement is not on behalf of the Commission or my fellow Commissioners, I can say that all of the EAC Commissioners have publicly stated they are not in favor of this designation and had advised Secretary Johnson and his subordinates that he should not move forward with it.

 

Moreover, we have often been dismayed and confused over either the lack of or conflicting information that has been provided to us. There have been occasions when we have spoken to or been briefed by DHS officials and sometimes even less than an hour later seen different or additional information provided by or leaked to the media by DHS officials. Numerous times after our discussions with DHS and/or other members of the USIC we have been left shaking our heads and unable to reconcile the pieces of information that they have given to us.

 

One must question the end game of this effort, especially when the touted benefits of this designation have already been offered and provided to elections officials throughout the past four months. Our states and territories have Constitutional authority to conduct elections, NOT the Federal Government. Elections officials have been aware of and have been dealing with cyber security and physical security of election infrastructure for many, many years and do an excellent job of it. This designation appears to be purely political, especially given that it was made with two weeks before the change in administrations. Elections officials asked for more time, conversation, and discussion and a thorough understanding of the scope and benefits of the critical infrastructure designation. That request was flat out denied by the unilateral action of Secretary Johnson.

“Grassley Presses for Answers on Obama Administration Impeding Independent Voting Agency”

“Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley is asking questions about the Justice Department’s refusal to defend the actions of the Election Assistance Commission, an independent federal agency without litigation authority, despite the law requiring the department to represent the commission in court.”  The Justice Department’s “unprecedented action” could result in non-citizens being allowed to register and vote.

 

Grassley wrote in a letter to the EAC and the Attorney General, “The Committee must evaluate the situation and determine whether the EAC (Election Assistance Commission) needs independent litigation authority in order to truly be free from political influence from the administration.  This case involves the integrity of elections and is taking place in the context of an ongoing Presidential election process.  The potential appearance that the administration is substituting its judgment for the EAC’s is a matter of significant concern.”

“Noncitizen Voting Case Pits Justice Department Against States That Require Proof of Citizenship”

 

“The free-for-all boxing match among the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, Kansas, and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)” over the right of states to require proof of citizenship from people using the federal voter registration form was back in federal court for another hearing on March 9.

 

Judge Richard Leon presided over a sometimes contentious hearing on the plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction that would rescind the Election Assistance Commission’s change of the instructions on the federal voter registration form to accommodate a request by Kansas. The Sunflower State wants the form to note that Kansans wishing to register must meet a proof of citizenship requirement.

 

The interveners again presented solid arguments; the plaintiffs and their allies at the DOJ once again did not:

 

Following on the DOJ’s “potentially unethical and unprofessional behavior in refusing to carry out its duty to defend” the EAC, “the Federal Programs Branch came into this week’s hearing once again trying to lose the case.  The Justice Department’s lawyer told Leon that it was willing to agree to a preliminary injunction.”  At a previous hearing, Judge Leon called this behavior by the DOJ “unprecedented” and “extraordinary.”

 

Over the objections of the DOJ and plaintiffs, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, intervening to defend the EAC, deposed EAC Commissioner Christy McCormick. “The Department of Justice was so concerned over McCormick’s testimony and the internal communications between DOJ and the EAC produced for the deposition that it asked Leon for a protective order sealing the deposition… the Justice Department’s attempt to keep them from coming to light suggests that the conflict of interest mentioned in McCormick’s letters may be very serious, indeed.”

 

Judge Leon asked the “struggling” DOJ lawyer Galen Thorp “if he could name ‘any statute or any case precedent, Supreme Court on down, that a Commission created by Congress doesn’t have the authority to invoke or waive attorney-client privilege[.]’ The lawyer could not…”

 

Plaintiffs’ lawyer Michael Keats “gave an often rambling, disjointed presentation. Just as at the last hearing, he did not seem to have an in-depth knowledge of the facts or applicable election law” and “made the type of mistake one would expect from a less experienced attorney. Twice he jumped to his feet trying to object to Kobach’s oral argument.”

 

Judge Leon allowed an additional 10 days for all sides to file supplemental briefs.

How the Obama Administration Is Enabling Non-Citizen Voting, and the DOJ’s Conflict of Interest

“Several well-funded organizations — including the League of Women Voters and the NAACP — are fighting efforts to prevent non-citizens from voting illegally in the upcoming presidential election.”  And the U.S. Department of Justice is helping them.

 

In their lawsuit against the Election Assistance Commission, members of “the institutional Left — including the League of Women Voters, People for the American Way, Common Cause, Project Vote, and Chicanos for La Causa —” are continuing a pattern of both objecting to any efforts to make elections more secure and working to centralize power over elections in the federal government.

 

Under Article I, Section 2 and the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution, states have the power to set the “Qualification requisite for electors.” As with many issues, the Left disdains the balance the Framers adopted in the Constitution and objects to this delegation of power to the states. They prefer to see power over elector eligibility centralized in Washington, D.C.

 

To that end, they are suing the EAC over adding state-specific instructions to the federal voter registration form for states that require proof of citizenship. But Hans von Spakovsky spells out the bigger issue here: the hyper-partisan Justice Department’s conflict of interest.

 

Allowing lawyers for the highly partisan Voting Section to write agency policy obliterates all semblance of independence and bipartisan balance. 

 

The Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division has become one of the most controversial and ideological components in the entire U.S. government… If these allegations are true (and based on the history of the Voting Rights Section during this administration, they may well be), then the Eric Holder–run Justice Department was actively engaged in blocking an independent bipartisan federal agency from allowing a state to verify that only citizens are registering to vote.

 

Now that same justice Department is tasked with defending the EAC in court for supporting a policy that Justice actively worked to block.  The first hearing is set for today, February 22.