EAC fraud study; preliminary version of report in USA Today

USA Today is reporting on a preliminary copy of the EAC election fraud study, produced months ago by Tova Wang and Job Serebrov.

At a time when many states are instituting new requirements for voter registration and identification, a preliminary report to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission has found little evidence of the type of polling-place fraud those measures seek to stop.

USA TODAY obtained the report from the commission four months after it was delivered by two consultants hired to write it. The commission has not distributed it publicly.

Conservatives dispute the research and conclusions. Thor Hearne, counsel to the American Center for Voting Rights, notes that the Justice Department has sued Missouri for having ineligible voters registered, while dead people have turned up on the registration rolls in Michigan. “It is just wrong to say that this isn’t a problem,” he says.

That’s one reason the commission decided not to officially release the report. “There was a division of opinion here,” Chairman Paul DeGregorio says. “We’ve seen places where fraud does occur.”

The consultants found little evidence of that. Barry Weinberg, former deputy chief of the voting section in the Justice Department’s civil rights division, reviewed their work. “Fraud at the polling place is generally difficult to pull off,” he says. “It takes a lot of planning and a lot of coordination.”

Here’s a link to the preliminary version of the twelve-page report obtained by USA Today.

As Dan Tokaji has pointed out earlier this morning in his blog posting on the “release” of this report in USA Today, it is really not clear why this study was not released to the public earlier (I don’t think that a division of opinion within the EAC is a great reason for not releasing studies funded by the federal government). The EAC has recently been funding many different research projects (some of which have produced final reports which haven’t been made public yet, either), and as these studies constitute the federal government’s commitment to studying election administration, these reports (and all data collected as part of their research activities) should be made available to the public once the research has been completed.

It’s worth noting that Section 241 of the Help America Vote Act, that laid out the many studies that Congress wanted the EAC to conduct, notes right in the first sentence of that section: “the Commission shall conduct and make available to the public studies regarding the election administration issues (described below) …”

Note the phrase “make available to the public…”