Tova Andrea Wang, Co-Author of the Voter Fraud and Voter Intimidation Report for the Election Assistance Commission, Calls for an End to the Censorship
Over the last few weeks, there has been a developing controversy in the press and in the Congress over a report on voter fraud and voter intimidation I co-authored for the Election Assistance Commission ("EAC"). It has been my desire to participate in this discussion and share my experience as a researcher, expert and co-author of the report. Unfortunately, the EAC has barred me from speaking. Early last week, through my attorney, I sent a letter to the Commission requesting that they release me from this gag order. Despite repeated follow-up, the EAC has failed to respond to this simple request. In the meantime, not only can I not speak to the press or public -- it is unclear under the terms of my contract with the EAC whether I can even answer questions from members of Congress.
My co-author and I submitted our report in July 2006; the EAC finally released its version of the report in December 2006. As numerous press reports indicate, the conclusions that we found in our research and included in our report were revised by the EAC, without explanation or discussion with me, my co-author or the general public. From the beginning of the project to this moment, my co-author and I have been bound in our contracts with the EAC to silence regarding our work, subject to lawsuits and civil liability if we violate the EAC-imposed gag order. Moreover, from July to December, no member of the EAC Commission or staff contacted me or my co-author to raise any concerns about the substance of our research. Indeed, after I learned that the EAC was revising our report before its public release, I contacted the EAC, and they refused to discuss with me the revisions, or the reasons such revisions were necessary.
Stifling discussion and debate over this report and the critical issues it addresses is contrary to the mission and goals of the EAC and to the goal of ensuring honest and fair elections in this country. Commissioner Hillman stated in her defense of the EAC's actions that the EAC seeks to "ensure improvements in the administration of federal elections so that all eligible voters will be able to vote and have that vote recorded and counted accurately." I share this aspiration. But I believe that the best way to achieve that end is not by suppressing or stifling debate and discussion, but by engaging in a thoughtful process of research and dialogue that ultimately arrives at the truth about the problems our voting system currently confronts.