At yesterday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Alberto Gonzales seemed to take it upon himself to provide the American people with as many reasons to demand that he be fired as he possibly could. He was evasive. He was defensive. He seemed out of touch with his department, ignorant of many key facts, and absolutely deferential to the political whims of the White House.
People For the American Way legislative and legal staff monitored and live blogged Gonzales’s testimony, but even the most casual observer could see that Gonzales was being challenged aggressively and effectively not only by Democrats, but by Republicans as well. The tenor of the hearings is indicative of a new order on Capitol Hill -- the new congressional leadership has shown a refreshing willingness to uphold its constitutional responsibility to provide oversight of the administration, and, in light of the President’s abysmal approval ratings, the Republicans refuse to stick their necks out for him.
Now that the 2008 election cycle has officially begun, it’s long past time to start working on meaningful election reform. While people committed to fair elections may differ on how particular aspects of the voting process should work, we can all agree that the status quo of unverifiable, unauditable, untrustworthy elections has to end. To do this, Congress needs to pass strong election reform legislation in the first session, no ifs, ands or buts. Our window of opportunity is narrow -- failing to pass a voter verification bill as soon as possible could doom 2008 voters to the same unacceptable problems we’ve seen in the past.
Florida elections officials have finished the machine testing phase of an "audit" of the voting machines in Sarasota County, where some 18,000 votes in a tight congressional race somehow disappeared or were never recorded. Their initial conclusions are laughable – and predictable.
The so-called audit is being conducted by people who have a vested interest in the outcome. Among those on the audit committee are an official who approved the machines in the first place, and a voting machine advocate who wore a "Bush Won" button throughout the entire 2000 recount of the presidential race in Florida. Further, the audit committee tested just five machines out of the 1,500 used on Election Day, as well as five more machines of the same type that were not used—an absurdly small sample.