(CNSNews.com) - A newly established group that is investigating and documenting registration and voting fraud during the 2004 election is suddenly under fire by a number of left-wing bloggers who are upset with the resumes of some of the group's members.
The American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR) is a newly minted non-partisan organization formed as a 501(c)(3) legal and education center "committed to defending the integrity of the election process and working to increase public confidence in the fairness and outcome of the elections," according to the ACVR.
"We want to make it easier for people to vote and harder to cheat," said Jim Dyke, spokesperson for ACVR. Dyke said the group was born of the 2004 election and officially filed its papers to form in February.
Dyke told Cybercast News Service his organization has already looked into election fraud in Ohio, a battleground state in the 2004 presidential election said to be fraught with voting and registration irregularities.
The group submitted a copy of its Ohio Election Report last week to the House Administration Committee as well as a referral letter to the Department of Justice outlining the findings of the report.
The letter, written by ACVR general counsel Mark F. (Thor) Hearne, Jr., accuses a number of "third party organizations" of registering "thousands of fictitious voters..."
Hearne testified before Congress that, "According to the Defiance County Sheriff's Department, Chad Staton (an ironic name, Chad) completed more than 100 fraudulent voter registration forms. These include voter registrations for cartoon characters such as Dick Tracy and Mary Poppins and famous people such as Michael Jackson and George Foreman."
Hearne also said at the hearing that various groups had filed "65 lawsuits ... to strike down provisions of election law such as the requirement that a voter present identification (even a copy of a utility bill), the requirement that a voter cast their ballot in the proper precinct and the right of individuals to observe the election process and raise objection when illegal activity is observed."
Dyke said his group wants to fight to keep "procedures in place to guard against Dick Tracy actually being able to cast a vote ... by acting as a watchdog group and pointing out these instances like the ones in Ohio." He said similar reports for Florida, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania are said to be forthcoming.
Dyke's group, he said, will "help legislators ... and inform the public about [election] safeguards" such as showing identification before voting.
Past GOP connections raise liberal ire
But the past professional experience of some of the AVRC staff has some liberals upset. Brad Friedman, creator of the left-wing website The Brad Blog, told Cybercast News Service he is concerned about past connections with the Bush-Cheney reelection committee and the Republican National Committee.
Bloggers on The Brad Blog and like-minded site called Why Are We Back In Iraq have noted that Hearne previously worked as a lawyer for the Bush-Cheney 2004 campaign, served as Missouri counsel to the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign and was general counsel to Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt.
Concern was also expressed because Dyke previously worked as the communications director for the RNC.
"I think ... this ACVR group came into existence because they knew that this panel is going to be convened to look at what happened in the '04 election in Ohio," said Friedman, referring to the newly formed bi-partisan Carter-Baker Commission investigating problems in the 2004 election.
"There are no voting rights groups on the right," said Friedman. With the creation of ACVR, Friedman said, the commission "now has one from the right to offer balance."
The ACVR was "testifying before Congress as expert witnesses on issues on which they were involved," claimed Friedman.
Friedman described the ACVR's Ohio Election Report as a "smokescreen," and "not really a problem," also noting that the ACVR report was mentioned in an RNC e-mail to party supporters.
Dyke said he was aware of such complaints, along with the apparently partisan edge of Friedman's blog, saying he was "also familiar with some of the links posted on his website, which seem to be pretty anti-Bush."
Dyke acknowledged that the group includes a number of people formerly involved in Republican politics and expressed confidence the group would continue putting partisanship aside, calling ACVR's work "fully factual."
"As we continue to expand the group and announce legal scholars and academics and others that will be involved with the group, that may help allay some of their concerns," said Dyke.
Friedman said he invited ACVR to join his own voting rights advocacy group, Velvet Revolution, a coalition of over 80 predominantly left-wing groups. "Believe me, I wish we had more folks from the right on board. If they can agree with us on these non-partisan issues, we'd love to have them," he said.
When asked why his own organization, which currently has no conservative groups, is different from ACVR in terms of having a political agenda, Friedman replied, "We are issue-oriented, not party-oriented."
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