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What's Wrong with the Holt Bill in Three Easy Bullets

By Nancy Tobi, Democracy for New Hampshire  Posted by Joan Brunwasser (about the submitter)     Permalink
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What's Wrong With the Holt Bill in Three Easy Bullets

The democratic processes of the American Republic are based on decentralized
power. Centralized power led to the American Revolution. Centralized power
is the antithesis to a government of the people, by the people, and for the

1. Centralization of Executive Power-White House Control over Counting
the Votes:
HR550 extends beyond the existing expiry date the power and authority
of the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), establishing a Presidential Commission
authorized to control the counting of votes in every election--federal, state,
and local--in the nation.

2. Centralization of Executive Power-Crony Appointments: The potential
for stacking of the EAC is evident in the scenario already played out under
the current Administration. In early 2006, the Bush White House made numerous
recess appointments, putting political cronies into positions of power and
authority without any Congressional oversight or checks and balances. Of the
eight recess appointments made on January 4, 2006, three were Commissioners
to the Federal Election Commission. Two of those appointed Commissioners are
known for their opposition to voting rights and clean elections. The third
is a political crony of Senate Minority Leader Reid of Nevada. (Nevada is now
positioned to take a lead role in the Democratic presidential nomination process.
For this privilege, Nevada has promised to play the nomination process by Party
rules, financed by the Casino industry.)

3. Centralization of Executive Power-Regulatory Authority: Federal regulatory
authority means the federal entity preempts state and local authorities. The
EAC was created as an advisory commission with one exception: it was granted
regulatory authority over the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). The EAC
has been steadily positioning and even suing to assert its regulatory authority
in other areas under its domain. Even if it does not succeed through litigation,
the EAC could, with the insertion of a single line of text in ANY congressional
act, become regulatory. This is how the FEC gained regulatory powers. A regulatory
EAC means that a Presidential Commission-potentially stacked with political
cronies-would have legal decision making and enforcement power over the
following areas, for every state in the nation:

  • Which voting systems are approved for use in our elections

  • Who counts the votes in every election

  • How votes are counted in every election

  • How recounts are administered and how their outcomes are determined

A recent editorial in the New York Times, entitled "Strong Arming the
Vote" (August 3, 2006) describes how the Department of Justice under the
Bush Administration has been heavily involved in partisan ploys to negate necessary
checks and balances in election practices. HR 550, if passed as written, will
establish a whole new arm of Executive power with dangerous authority to subvert
the entire democratic process of elections that supports our system of government.
It would result, in effect, in a bloodless coup.

Nancy Tobi is the author of numerous articles on election integrity, including "The Gifts of HAVA: Time to Ask for a Refund," "What's Wrong with the Holt Bill,"and the newly released "We're Counting the Votes: An Election Preparedness Kit." She is co-founder and Chair of Democracy for New Hampshire and Chair of the Democracy for New Hampshire Fair Elections Committee. Her writings may be found at http://www.democracyfornewhampshire.com%20">www.democracyfornewhampshire.com and she can be reached at ntobi@democracyfornewhampshire.com.

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