President's Election Commission is Inadequate to Address 2016 Election Threats
The Commission is "Not a Good Use of Time" Without a Focus on Russian Interference, Voter Suppression
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Michelle C. Whittaker, Director of Communications
May 11, 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Democracy Initiative (DI), a coalition of 58 organizations representing 30 million members nationwide, finds the focus and leadership of the President’s “Election Integrity Commission” wholly inadequate in the face of real, credible foreign interference in our 2016 election. The coalition’s executive director, Wendy Fields, issued the following statement:
“The Election Integrity Commission is not a good use of time and resources if it does not focus on the true threats to our democracy. As the Brennan Center for Justice (a DI partner organization) notes, study after study has shown that large-scale voter fraud is nonexistent. Without any evidence POTUS has claimed that 3 million people voted illegally in 2016 in an attempt to divert attention from the real and present threat of Russian interference in our election.
What is clear is a pattern of voter suppression under the false claim of voter fraud. The preoccupation with voter fraud has been a convenient excuse for some legislators to introduce and/or pass harmful voter ID and reduced voting options to suppress the vote. Many of the potential members of the commission, including Vice President Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, have contributed to voter suppression. Indiana's Secretary of State has purged nearly 500,000 people from the voter rolls -- some just for not participating in recent elections. In 2014, Kansas new registration rules championed by Kobach allowed the state to reject 20% of the applicants - a large portion being independents.
This administration’s unwillingness to properly investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election calls into question the real purpose of this commission. How can Americans trust that our elections will not be rigged in the future without an independent commission and special prosecutor to investigate how the Russians interfered and who was involved? We reject this commission's attempt to legitimize acts of voter suppression in the name of election integrity.”
The following are statements from coalition partners on the commission:
The details revealed to date about the ‘election integrity’ commission and its members read like a blueprint for trying to justify voter suppression. It is insulting that the new commission is headed by two champions of voter suppression – Mike Pence and Kris Kobach. It is hard to believe that any “findings” of this commission headed by those individuals will do anything but condone and seek to justify voter suppression efforts.
Karen Hobert Flynn, President Common Cause and co-chair of the Democracy Initiative
We must see this commission for what it is: an attempt to lend credence and legitimacy to the repeatedly disproved lie that pervasive voter fraud exists in this country – a lie designed to intimidate and ultimately prevent African American and Latino voters from fully exercising their constitutional right to participate in our democracy. All Americans, regardless of ideology or political affiliation, should be deeply disturbed to see the White House lend its prestige and power to the undermining of our political process.
Sherrilyn Ifill, President of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (LDF)
Every credible study of voting practices confirm, time and again, that our system is sound. What is a problem is that opponents of voting rights are attacking our voting process. Instead of pushing for free, fair elections, they are deliberately attempting to make it harder to vote – especially for communities of color. These efforts harken back to some of the ugliest periods in our history, when people of color, especially Black people, had to fight our way to the ballot with our own bodies and our very lives. The real fraud is the attempt by opponents of voting rights – following this administration’s model – seeking to kill the right to vote.
Judith Browne Dianis, Executive Director of Advancement Project’s National Office
Donald Trump has lied about Mike Flynn. He’s lied about the crowds at his inauguration. He’s lied about wiretaps on Trump Tower. And now he’s continuing to push his lies about widespread voter fraud. [...] The Trump administration’s claims about voter fraud have exactly the same credibility as his other debunked conspiracy theories: none whatsoever. Everything about this new commission should be judged in that light.
Diallo Brooks, Director of Outreach and Public Engagement at People For the American Way
“No one should be confused by what this executive order is: an assault on the right to vote built on non-existent evidence. Donald Trump has no interest in protecting our democracy, he’s only interested in destroying it for his and his corporate polluting friends personal gain. Clearly not satisfied with firing the person overseeing the investigation into his connections with Russia, Trump is expanding his attack on democracy with this waste of taxpayer’s money. The fact is that millions of Americans are having their right to vote suppressed, and this executive order puts our country on a path to continue that frightening trend. Our government is of the people, by the people, and for the people -- not Donald Trump, which is exactly why we will continue to grow our movement to protect our democracy.”
Mike Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club
The Democracy Initiative is a dynamic network of organizations working for a responsive, reflective, and inclusive democracy where all Americans participate fully and freely in the democratic process.