I offer the following observations with respect to the article in this paper, titled “CEC mum on Dems’ allegations.”
NMI Democrats delivered a straightforward letter to the Commonwealth Election Commission identifying substantial issues and requesting “immediate” access to documents and records that potentially could confirm the regularity of the election or on the other hand demonstrate existence of grounds for an election contest.
We did not ask the CEC to make copies of documents or do anything else that would require electricity. Emphasizing the fact that CEC has no generator is quite simply nothing more than an excuse and evasion.
If we are to call it what it is, the CEC is stonewalling.
For that matter, what excuse does the governor’s office have for not supplying CEC with a generator not only during the election but continuously thereafter? It looks at least a bit like a calculated deprivation of electricity.
Election contests have short, strict jurisdictional filing deadlines. By refusing to provide answers to questions and access to documents promptly, the CEC effectively makes it impossible for concerned voters to make informed decisions on whether or not to file an election contest.
Moreover, the CEC’s own regulations make clear that citizen concerns about elections demand immediacy, not delay. Regulations require the executive director or chairman of the commission to “immediately review the substance of the complaint” upon “receipt of an oral or written complaint.”
Regulations also require the executive director to “immediately consult with the attorney general or an assistant attorney general to determine how the complaint should be investigated.”
Finally, regulations explicitly provide that “election irregularity complaints shall be treated as extremely time sensitive” and require the executive director or the commission to “immediately begin the procedure set forth in this part to investigate and prevent irregularities.”
The regulation also explicitly states that it applies “to complaints made both before and after an election has taken place.”
The Open Government Act does not require government agencies to wait 10 days before providing access to documents and records. It establishes a 10-day maximum deadline for compliance with a request. The executive director’s decision (or compliance with someone else’s demand) to hide behind the OGA timetable is an obvious attempt to resist transparency. The question is why is the CEC unwilling to bring everything out into the light of day immediately? What do they need time for?
We also might ask why it was that we went into the 2018 general election with four vacancies on the commission.
Stephen C. Woodruff
CEO, NMI Democrats