Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Baltimore, joined other House Democrats in a letter Wednesday urging the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to review the status of voting machine technology and the potential problems posed by using outdated equipment. The members asked the GAO to review challenges state and local jurisdictions face with aging voting systems, the impact of federal standards on developing new voting systems and benefits and challenges of policies in place regarding voter turnout. The letter cites a report by the Presidential Commission on Election Administration issued in January 2014, which lists its findings and recommendations to President Barack Obama. Congress passed the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 as an attempt to modernize voting technology, including optical scanning and touch screen voting devices.
A conservative group claiming it was targeted by the Internal Revenue Service stole the show at a congressional hearing on Thursday when it veered off topic and accused top panel Democrat Rep. Elijah Cummings of harassment. Catherine Engelbrecht, president of True the Vote, complained that Cummings, ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee “sent letters to True the Vote, demanding much of the same information the IRS had requested” after she filed for nonprofit status and then “would appear on cable news and publicly defame me and my organization.” Democrats called it outrageous that Republicans gave the group a platform to attack a member, and even some Republicans tried to change the subject back to the IRS controversy itself.
Interviews with 15 U.S. Internal Revenue Service employees show no political motivation or White House involvement in targeting groups applying for tax-exempt status, House Democrats said in a memo. The 36-page memo released by Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee includes excerpts from several employee interviews with congressional investigators that haven’t been distributed publicly until today. The IRS has apologized for the delays and selective scrutiny given to Tea Party groups applying for nonprofit status. Democrats in Congress have resisted Republican arguments that IRS employees used their positions to harm Republican-leaning groups. Instead, they maintain that Tea Party groups were the victims of inadequate rules and inadvertent bungling.
The investigator who wrote a scathing report about the Internal Revenue Service targeting conservative political groups is heading back to Capitol Hill as a key House Democrat says his committee’s investigation has found no evidence of political bias at the agency. IRS inspector general J. Russell George is to testify Thursday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, along with two IRS workers who have been interviewed as part of the committee’s investigation. George has been criticized by some congressional Democrats who say his report failed to mention that some liberal groups were targeted, too. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., released a memo Tuesday saying that interviews with 15 IRS employees and reviews of thousands of emails reveal no evidence of political bias by IRS workers. The memo said there is also no evidence that anyone outside the IRS directed the targeting.
A U.S. Internal Revenue Service manager, who described himself as a conservative Republican, told congressional investigators that he and a local colleague decided to give conservative groups the extra scrutiny that has prompted weeks of political controversy. In an official interview transcript released on Sunday by Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings, the manager said he and an underling set aside “Tea Party” and “patriot” groups that had applied for tax-exempt status because the organizations appeared to pose a new precedent that could affect future IRS filings. Cummings, top Democrat on the House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee conducting the probe, told CNN’s “State of the Union” program that the manager’s comments provided evidence that politics was not behind IRS actions that have fueled a month-long furor in Washington.
Two members of Congress have asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate why voters in Virginia and Florida had to wait hours in line to cast their ballots on Election Day 2012. Reps. Elijah Cummings of Maryland and Gerry Connolly of Virginia, both Democrats, made the request in a letter to the government’s investigative arm.
“… we request that GAO conduct a study of the underlying causes contributing to long lines on Election Day, including evaluating laws that impact voting rights and election administration. This study will help inform both federal and state policymakers about the types of reforms that will most effectively reduce long waiting times and ensure that all Americans obtain equal access to the ballot box.”