When allegations surfaced of voter fraud or voter suppression in key states in the 2004 presidential election, the federal Election Assistance Commission ordered a study to “determine the quantity and quality of vote fraud and voter intimidation on a national scale.”
Two consultants, one Republican (Job Serebrov) and one Democrat (Tova Wang), were hired to draw up a preliminary overview based on interviews, news stories, applicable case law, government reports, position papers from advocacy groups, and academic studies. In their “predecisional” draft (excerpted below and on the following four pages) Serebrov and Wang reported that “the only interviewee who believe[d] that polling place fraud is widespread” was Jason Torchinsky of the American Center for Voting Rights, a conservative organization that’s been accused of fronting for the GOP. (It’s Republicans who typically complain about voter fraud, because the allegations are usually directed at minority and low-income voters who tend to vote Democratic.) Most other interviewees, though not unanimous, showed “widespread … agreement that there is little polling place fraud” (Page 4). Nonetheless, the draft report observed, the Justice Department’s public integrity section is pursuing voter fraud cases energetically: “While the number of election fraud related complaints have not gone up since 2002 … the number of indictments the section is pursuing” against “alien voters, felon voters, and double voters” has risen substantially (Page 5).
Serebrov and Wang submitted their initial findings to be “vetted and edited” by an Election Assistance Commission working group. That’s when the hackwork began.
The final report asserts, falsely, that “there is a great deal of debate on the pervasiveness of fraud in elections.” Wang, the Democrat, has objected in writing that this and other revisions were made “without explanation or discussion.” A gag order in the original contract forbids her to discuss the matter. Serebrov, the Republican, isn’t happy either. The New York Times reported (subscription required) that he complained to a staffer for the Election Assistance Commission that neither consultant “was willing to conform [their] results [to] political expediency,” and that Serebrov “could care less that the results are not what the more conservative members of my party wanted.”
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