Commissioner Met With Election Activists On Saturday
Commissioner Martinez' Letter of Resignation
The current vice chair of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, Ray Martinez submitted his resignation to President George W. Bush this morning. Mr. Martinez' resignation will become effective June 30, 2006. He cited family considerations as his primary reason for stepping down and lauded his colleagues at the EAC and the agency's staff for their continued work on behalf of the nation.Martinez had been recommended for nomination by Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) in 2003.
On April 8, Martinez had met with election integrity activists participating in a VoteTrustUSA leadership workshop. The Commissioner graciously and diplomatically fielded a barrage of questions from leading election refom advocates from across the country for well over and hour. The questions were challenging and well informed and reflected the growing crisis facing our democracy.
The day before he spoke at the VoteTrustUSA workshop, Martinez had presented a paper at a colloquium in Princeton, NJ. The paper presented four solutions to what he called the"alarming erosion" of American voter confidence following the last two presidential elections.
As reported on NJ.com:
Prior to his appointment to the EAC, Mr. Martinez practiced law in Austin, Texas with a focus on legislative and regulatory matters and a client base consisting primarily of county governments and related public sector associations.
"One of the most alarming trends in our country is the continual erosion of voter confidence in the accuracy of our tabulated results," Martinez said. "The 2000 presidential election has adversely affected the opinion of the average American on our electoral process.
"Since then, voter confidence has continued to trend in the wrong direction," Martinez added, "and it's unlikely to fade any time soon."
At the top of his list was the idea that every state perform a regular election audit to determine that the administration of elections is fair, impartial and consistent with voter intent. The results of these audits should be widely dispersed.
Part of the problem with recent elections, Martinez said, is that not every state has clear directives on what constitutes a vote for each type of machine used. Where there are ambiguities, election officials must make snap judgments that are later open to suspicion or calls of partisanship, he said.
A regular and uniform state audit of these matters, Martinez said, would go a long way towards curtailing voter suspicion.
Martinez also would like to see each state's chief election official take a conflict of interest oath. In it, these political appointees would adopt a voluntary pledge of impartiality, distancing them from the party that appointed them. They would likewise refrain from participating in partisan committees or meetings or raising money for any political groups that would call their credibility into question.
Third, Martinez said all election equipment vendors -- particularly the top tier officers in each company -- should take a similar conflict of interest oath, and that the vendor industry adopt a list of impartiality standards by which vendors must conduct themselves.
Mr. Martinez began his law practice after serving as Deputy Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House. In this position, he was responsible for assisting former President Bill Clinton with various policy issues affecting state and local jurisdictions. Additionally, while on the White House staff, Mr. Martinez assisted with the development of long-term strategies to stimulate economic growth along the U.S.-Mexico border region, and with the establishment of the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission.
Before serving as Deputy Assistant to the President, Mr. Martinez served as regional director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Dallas, Texas where he focused agency resources on public health issues such as full implementation of the Children's Health Insurance Program. His federal government service began in 1993, when he was appointed White House Liaison to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and later as Special Assistant to the President in the White House Office of Political Affairs. Prior to his service in the federal government, Mr. Martinez worked as a legislative liaison for the Texas Attorney General's office.
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