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Carter Baker Commission

More on the Politics of ID, the Politics of Carter-Baker PDF  | Print |  Email
Carter Baker Commission
By Bob Bauer   
June 02, 2008
This article was posted at Bob Bauer's Blog and is reposted here with permission of the author.

Heather Gerken and I have commented on Bob Pastor’s recent defense of the Carter-Baker Commission’s work, particularly its endorsement of  voter ID as a measure linked to enhanced state voter registration programs.  We suggest that political compromise may have its virtues in a host of contexts, but in this instance, on the ID issue, political bargaining did not serve the public well.

This is not an unqualified indictment of Carter-Baker, which made worthy contributions to the election law reform debate, but the Commission’s urge to achieve a political settlement of the ID issue was unfortunate.  Its position has become a citation, taken by the Supreme Court in Crawford v. Marion County Board of Elections, lending the false impression of substance to a case weakly argued on the merits—meaning, also, on the data, of which there was virtually none. The best the Commission could do was bow to public fears of fraud, and these, too, were overstated and cannot support, without more, the imposition of an ID requirement.

I would add a little more from my perspective to the problems with Carter-Baker, problems of both design and execution that created or compounded the flaw of a politicized outcome.
The Devil in the Details PDF  | Print |  Email
Carter Baker Commission
By Warren Stewart, Director of Legislative Issues and Policy, VoteTrustUSA   
September 21, 2005
Carter-Baker, California, and the Integrity of American Elections

Most of the very correct objections to the Carter-Baker report appearing in the days since its release have focused on the deeply objectionable Voter ID recommendations. Less attention has been paid to the watershed significance of the Commission’s call to congress to establish a nationwide requirement for a voter verified paper record (VVPR) of every vote and the subtle, but devastating, flaws in the details of that recommendation.

It is critical that their language specifically recommending that it be left up to the states to determine if the voter verified record is the “ballot of record,” is not used as a blueprint for legislation that would result in a meaningless and expensive placebo. The Commission’s recognized that “regular audits of voting machines are also needed to double-check the accuracy of the machines’ vote totals”, but then recommends only that officials “publicly test all types of voting machines before, during, and after Election Day and allow public observation of zero machine counts at the start of Election Day and the machine certification process.” Such testing is not an audit in which hand counts of voter verified ballots are compared to machine counts.

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back PDF  | Print |  Email
Carter Baker Commission
By Warren Stewart, Director of Legislative Issues and Policy   
September 19, 2005
Don't Let Congress Use the Carter-Baker Report to Make Vote Verification Meaningless

The Report of the Commission on Federal Election Reform, published this morning and available for download here, is a significant tome at over 100 pages, and its 87 recommendations cover a wide range of issues of concern to election activists. The section dealing with voting technology is of particular interest to those concerned about the accuracy and security of elections in that it calls for a voter verifiable paper trail on all voting machines.

The Commission’s report very correctly recognizes the need to ensure voter confidence in the election process through a verification process. However, the report specifically recommends that the status of the voter verified record should be left to the states. This is unacceptable. It is fundamental to the integrity of the democratic process that it is the voters and not the machines that ultimately confirm the accuracy of their votes.

The record verified by the voter is the only physical record that voter has confirmed and should be recognized as such. It should not be offered to voters as a placebo to ensure their confidence if it does not actually provide reason for that confidence. It is crucial for a transparent election process is a record of each vote that has been verified by the voters themselves. It must be human readable, it must be genuinely permanent and preserved in the manner that all election materials are preserved, and it must be used to confirm the accuracy of machine counts, whether those counts come from DREs or optical scanners. When inconsistencies between hand counts of paper records and machine-tabulated records are uncovered in an audit or recount, the totals of the voter verified records must be considered the true and correct record of the voter’s vote.

Rep. Holt's Response to Carter-Baker Report PDF  | Print |  Email
Carter Baker Commission
By Warren Stewart, Director of Legislayive Issues and Policy, VoteTrustUSA   
September 19, 2005
link to press release

Carter-Baker Commission Calls Holt Proposal Essential For Fair, Verifiable Elections

Washington DC. - Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) today praised the recommendation of the Commission on Electoral Reform-also known as the Carter-Baker Commission-to endorse the concept of voter-verified paper audit records for electronic voting machines.

"I am pleased that the Commission has explicitly endorsed my proposal for a voter-verified paper record for every vote cast," said Holt. "I hope Congress will now move swiftly to embrace my legislation in time for the 2006 elections."
Carter-Baker Commission Recommends A Barrier To Voting PDF  | Print |  Email
Carter Baker Commission
By John Gideon, and VoteTrustUSA   
September 19, 2005
Today's release of the much awaited Carter-Baker Commission report, entitled "Building Confidence in U.S. Elections - Report of the Commission on Federal Election Reform" (available for download here) has been met with mixed emotions. While it suggests that all voting machines in the nation provide a voter verified paper audit trail; it also proposes a national voter ID. One only has to look at the "Additional Statements" area of the report to see that there were cries of dissent over the voter ID requirements. Tom Daschle, Spencer Overton and Raul Yzaguirre all spoke as one in their dissent over this issue.

In their dissenting opinion, these three gentlemen state, "The call for States to use the new REAL ID drivers license for voter identification at the polls is the most troublesome recommendation in the Report." They also state, "The documents required by REAL ID to secure a driver's license, and consequently a photo ID to vote under this recommendation, include a birth certificate, passport, or naturalization papers, a photo identity document and proof of Social Security number. Obtaining such documents can be difficult, even for those not displaced by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina." In fact the proof of citizenship is not yet a requirement for the REAL ID drivers license so any use of that card for voting would require a stiffening of the REAL ID requirements.

Mr. Overton felt so strongly in his dissent that he has posted his dissenting comments that were not allowed in the report, to a web site: In his dissent, Mr. Overton points out that the incidence of voter fraud that would be stopped by the Commission’s recommendations is minuscule as compared to the number of Americans of voting age who would lose their right to vote. In fact the Commission itself, in their report, agrees that “there is no evidence of extensive fraud in U.S. elections or of multiple voting….”.

Carter Baker CFER Resources
Commission Website
Download Commission Report (PDF)
Link to Hearings
Carter Baker Dissent
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