I did a few press interviews on the Van Hollen law suit, so I suppose I should blog on it. I have two reactions. First, it is unfair to say that the lawsuit is frivolous or only seeks to foster partisan interests. Federal law required cross checks as of January 2006 and Wisconsin did not develop the capacity to do them until August 2008. There was a reason for the law. Congress decided that fair elections required that certain steps be taken to ensure accurate voter lists in federal elections. It gave the states a deadline and Wisconsin missed it. In that sense, Van Hollen has the law and the facts on his side.
But ... and here is my second impression and one that I think (and certainly hope) that the Attorney General shares ... there is only so much that we can do between now and November 4. This is why I think that this is a case that must be settled. We probably can't do the required cross checks and resolve all discrepancies between now and November 4. Van Hollen does not seem to be insisting on that. His problem is with the Government Accountability Board's position that they need do nothing to remedy the state's untimely compliance.
The Board's response to its refusal to do anything about the state's untimeliness is to say that we can't do everything. That seems unreasonable.
What the parties need to do is decide where the likelihood of inaccuracy and fraud is the greatest and then determine which checks to run and which ones should be acted upon. I don't know what that should be. Maybe we run checks against the data base of deaths and felons and call it a day. Maybe we run a broader check but follow up only on those discrepancies that cannot readily be explained by clerical errors, developing a set of ground rules for defining those. Perhaps we focus on the registrations submitted by special registrars which are often representatives of partisan groups like ACORN.
What they should not do is turn it into a political football. Van Hollen has - however inconveniently - identified a real problem and seems to be flexible about how to deal with it. Doyle has appointed an excellent - but staunchly partisan - lawyer to represent the board. Lester Pines and the board - and J.B. Van Hollen and my brothers and sisters in the conservative community - need to understand that we are in a situation where compromise is in order.