House Republicans are planning to eliminate the independent, bipartisan Election Assistance Commission that was created in 2002 and signed into law by President Bush. The EAC is the only federal agency whose sole mission is to secure the voting process.
In fact, the EAC is currently working with law enforcement as part of the ongoing FBI probe into Russia’s role in interfering with last year’s elections to help Donald Trump. The Wall Street Journal reports:
The Election Assistance Commission said in December it was “working with federal law enforcement agencies to investigate the potential breach and its effects.” It said recently it has thoroughly scanned its systems to make sure there are no additional security concerns.
The commission provides election-management guidelines and develops specifications for certifying voting systems, though responsibility for administering elections ultimately falls to state and local governments.
The Help America Vote Act was passed with broad, bipartisan consent in Congress to establish the EAC, to get rid of archaic punch cards and set minimum standards of voting security. HAVA created a federal election security agency precisely to uncover the kinds of hacks like South Carolina’s recently reported intrusions.
House Democrats are predictably up in arms over this latest development and strongly oppose sabotaging a key federal agency. Predictably, House Republicans are using a totally false pretext to push the idea that “federal overreach” is a problem now that they control all levers of government, telling the Journal:
“People supporting the EAC are quite frankly proponents for a greater federal role in our elections,” said Rep. Tom Graves (R., Ga.) at a June committee hearing on the proposal to eliminate the agency.
The commission “has a unique task that they’re best situated to accomplish,” said Rep. Mike Quigley, an Illinois Democrat who has been fighting to preserve the agency.
Mr. Quigly said that the intelligence community judgment that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a campaign of interference in the 2016 election makes it the “worst time” to try to eliminate the agency. “Cutting funding to it is a green light to Putin to do it again,” said Mr. Quigley.
After the heated 2000 election was stolen by Republicans, Congress came together for the good of the country to create a common framework to protect our country’s elections. By the 2012 elections, HAVA distributed $3.2 billion dollars to local elections boards and states across the country and eliminated the problems it was created to fix, like hanging chads.
The Elections Assistance Committee stands ready to assist with this year’s voting problems and has fifteen years of institutional knowledge already established.
But a block of mindlessly sold out House Republicans want to throw that all away just to appease Russia and their new master Putin, right in the midst of a massive investigation the worst foreign intrusion into America’s electoral systems in our history.
Grant Stern is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition