Hans Off Our Elections!


The crucial vote on Hans von Spakovsky’s FEC term.

Regarding “Tally Ho!: The GOP’s Hounding of Voters” (September 27), which focused on GOP anti-Democratic, anti-democratic operative Hans von Spakovsky, the lawyers at NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice gave me a heads-up on their mass mailing to senators about today’s scheduled vote on von Spakovsky’s confirmation for another FEC term. The letter, signed by Executive Director Michael Waldman, pulls no punches:

Four candidates for the Federal Election Commission (FEC) were recently reported out of committee without recommendation, which amounts to an unprecedented and significant vote of no confidence based on one particularly controversial nominee.

We believe that each candidate should be considered individually, on his own merits. In particular, we believe that one of the nominees, Mr. Hans von Spakovsky, has failed to allay concerns that he will be able to administer the nation’s election laws fairly and without prejudgment or undue partisan interest.

Read the whole letter (PDF), but forget about counting on today’s hearing if you’re planning on learning all about von Spakovsky’s sordid history of partisan sabotage of voting rights when he worked for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and since his recess appointment by which George W. Bush‘s handlers sneaked him in at FEC headquarters. Members of the club known as the U.S. Senate have agreed to conduct only two hours of hearings about von Spakovsky before putting his name to a vote on the Senate floor. The Hill explains:

The plan hatched Wednesday would allow von Spakovsky’s nomination to move to the floor separately with two hours of debate beforehand. If his nomination passes, as Democratic aides predict it would, the Senate would move to votes on the other three uncontested FEC nominees. …

Von Spakovsky’s opponents agreed to the deal because it would allow senators to vote against his appointment while voting in favor of the other nominees. Von Spakovsky’s nomination became controversial earlier this year during the Democratic investigation into the 2006 firings of U.S. attorneys.

Will today’s scheduled vote on the former GOP county chairman from Georgia rest on a simple majority in a Senate where the Democrats have a razor-thin handle on power? At this very minute, there’s probably some pretty intense lobbying going on in the Senate cloakroom.

Too bad the hearing on von Spakovsky is being limited to two hours. That’s not enough time for Americans to fully learn about his shenanigans in keeping citizens from voting. OK, so, unlike William Rehnquist, he hasn’t personally stopped black people from voting on Election Day in 1964 before becoming chief justice of the United States. Von Spakovsky is more of a behind-the-scenes operative.

But leaving this guy on the FEC is absurd, not only for Democrats but for all voters. If he survives, our 2008 elections automatically become less democratic, and you’ll have to rewrite your kids’ civics textbooks.