In Stark Contrast to Current EAC Chair, Rev. DeForest Soaries Blasts White House, Congress in Transcript of Unaired Interview from Major Broadcast Network!
The BRAD BLOG has received an EXCLUSIVE partial transcript from a recent, unaired interview by a major broadcast network with former U.S. Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) chair Rev. DeForest Soaries.
Soaries was appointed by George W. Bush as the first chair of the commission created by the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) in the wake of the 2000 Presidential Election Debacle. In the interview, available here for the first time, Soaries excoriates both Congress and the White House, referring to their dedication to reforming American election issues as “a charade” and “a travesty,” and says the system now in place is “ripe for stealing elections and for fraud.”
Having resigned from the commission in April of 2005, Soaries goes on to explain that he believes he was “deceived” by both the White House and Congress, and that neither were ever “really serious about election reform.”
The explosive comments are the latest evidence highlighting serious deficiencies in the federal body, created by HAVA for oversight of elections systems, including new electronic voting devices, and standards for the use and security of those systems.
In the unaired interview, conducted last August, Soaries says there are “no standards” for voting systems and that Congress and the White House “made things worse through the passage of the Help America Vote Act.”
Due to underfunding and lack of attention to the EAC and the Election Reform it was supposed to oversee, Soaries says we now have an “inability to trust the technology that we use” to count votes in our American democracy, even as “weâ€™re spending a billion dollars a week in Iraq.”
“We know more today about how to build a machine to take pictures of rocks on Mars than we know about how to build a machine to safeguard the American right to vote,” complained Soaries in the interview.
On Electronic Voting System standards – which HAVA mandated would be created by the EAC – Soaries blasts both the White House and Congress for failing to supply them with the needed resources to complete the mandate, both for the federal government and the states that were relying on them to do so.
“[T]he states were forced to comply and they were asking us for guidance. We were ill-equipped to provide guidance. We didnâ€™t begin our work until January 2004 and we spent the first three months of our work looking for office space. Here we were, the first federal commission, responsible for implementing federal law in the area of election administration and for the first three months we didnâ€™t even have an address. And we physically had to walk around Washington DC looking for office space. This was a travesty. I was basically deceived by the leaders of the House, the Senate and the White House.“
“Someone has got to be able to say, no one in America should use machine ‘A’ ever again,” he says, in reference to the EAC’s failure to decertify electronic voting systems even after they have been proven to be easily vulnerable to hackers and tampering.
“And if itâ€™s not EAC,” he continued, “itâ€™s got to be someone. Someone in America has got to hold America accountable for protecting the most fundamental right in a democracy and that is the right to vote.“
The straightforward comments from the EAC’s first chair are in stark contrast to the actions of his Bush-appointed replacement, the current EAC head, Paul DiGregorio. The outgoing chair, DiGregorio, whose term has now ended, made news several days ago when it was discovered he had allowed the commission to withhold the release of a May 2006 report revealing claims of epidemic “Voter Fraud” – as made by GOP operatives in order to push an agenda calling for restrictive, unconstitutional Photo ID laws at polling polaces – are wholly unfounded.
The transcript of Soaries comments, as taken from the unaired August 2006 interview are posted belowâ€¦
Rev. DeForest Soaries, Former U.S. Elections Assistance Commission Chair
“Florida 2000, the whole world watched America express embarrassment over the status of the Election Assistance Administration and by November 2004, we had not only not made significant changes but in many ways, had made things worse through the passage of the Help America Vote Act.
“After Florida 2000, the politicians were all on the soap box promising the country that we would ‘repair’ the problem and the problem was much more than hanging chads and lever machines. For instance, the Help America Vote Act mandates that an electronic voting machine be in every precinct in the country and that mandate preceded the funding of research necessary to ensure that there is some prototype or standard for such machines. If every home were mandated to have a microwave without the prerequisite kinds of safety standards for microwaves, it would be considered scandalous. But we know more today about how to build a machine to take pictures of rocks on Mars than we know about how to build a machine to safeguard the American right to vote.
“There is no prototype. There are no standards. There is no scientific research that would guarantee any election district that thereâ€™s a machine that can be used to answer these very serious questions. And so, my sense is that the politicians in Washington have concluded that the system canâ€™t be all that bad because, after all, it produced them. And as long as an elected official is an elected official, then whatever machine was used, whatever device was used to elect him or her, seems to be adequate. But thereâ€™s an erosion of voting rights implicit in our inability to trust the technology that we use and if we were another country being analyzed by America, we would conclude that this country is ripe for stealing elections and for fraud.
“What was ironic that was each of us accepted our appointments knowing that EAC had no statutory authority to regulate. But what we were told was that EAC would have sufficient money to do research. And while regulatory authority was not present, we felt that if we could do the proper research, no state would be caught dead using equipment that didnâ€™t meet up to the standards that our research proved were acceptable standards. Well, in the absence of regulatory authority and in the absence of money to do the research, we were basically asked to make bricks without straw.
“Well, the states were forced to comply and they were asking us for guidance. We were ill-equipped to provide guidance. We didnâ€™t begin
our work until January 2004 and we spent the first th
ree months of our work looking for office space. Here we were, the first federal commission, responsible for implementing federal law in the area of election administration and for the first three months we didnâ€™t even have an address. And we physically had to walk around Washington DC looking for office space. This was a travesty. I was basically deceived by the leaders of the House, the Senate and the White House. And I decided that it just made more sense to spend my time watching my sons play basketball than to participate in this charade.
“While weâ€™re spending a billion dollars a week in Iraq, weâ€™re told at EAC, by both the White House and the Congress, here is how much weâ€™re going to give you. You tell us what youâ€™re going to do with it. They never asked us the question, what would it really take to lead election reform in this country. How much money should the country really spend not only on buying new equipment, but on doing the proper research before using that equipment and how much will it cost over the long haul to keep that equipment up to date and to repair such equipment. Those questions were not asked. So in my view, it was a just a charade that I would chose not to participate in.
“Either EAC or some agency must have the capacity to hold the entire system, elections officials, public officials and the manufacturers of voting equipment accountable. Where thereâ€™s no accountability, then youâ€™re open for fraud and for inefficiency. EAC has regulatory authority over the National Voting Rights Act but thatâ€™s a small piece of the voting process. Someone has got to be able to say, no one in America should use machine ‘A’ ever again. And if itâ€™s not EAC, itâ€™s got to be someone. Someone in America has got to hold America accountable for protecting the most fundamental right in a democracy and that is the right to vote.”
BLOGGED BY Brad ON 10/17/2006 7:35AM P
Executive Director www.votersunite.org and
“We know more today about how to build a machine to take pictures of rocks on Mars than we know about how to build a machine to safeguard the American right to vote.” Rev. DeForest Soaries, the first Chairman of the Election Assistance Commission
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