Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dear Common Dreams Readers:
Corporations and billionaires have their own media. Shouldn't we? When you “follow the money” that funds our independent journalism, it all leads back to this: people like you. Our supporters are what allows us to produce journalism in the public interest that is beholden only to people, our planet, and the common good. Please support our Mid-Year Campaign so that we always have a newsroom for the people that is funded by the people. Thank you for your support. --Jon Queally, managing editor

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Tuesday's votes by GOP committee members, as The Nation's Ari Berman put it, are "more proof of how the GOP's real agenda is to make it harder to vote." (Photo: Keith Ivey/cc/flickr)

Tuesday's votes by GOP committee members, as The Nation's Ari Berman put it, are "more proof of how the GOP's real agenda is to make it harder to vote." (Photo: Keith Ivey/cc/flickr)

House GOP Quietly Moves to Kill Commission Charged With Securing Elections

House Committee also voted to abolish public financing for presidential elections

Lauren McCauley

Amid national outrage over possible foreign interference in the 2016 election and President Donald Trump's own lies about so-called voter fraud, House Republicans on Tuesday quietly advanced two bills that "could profoundly impact the way we administer and finance national elections," watchdogs are warning.

The GOP-dominated Committee on House Administration voted along party lines to approve the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) Termination Act (HR 634), which would abolish the only "federal agency charged with upgrading our voting systems" and "helping to protect our elections from hacking," as Wendy Weiser, director of the Democracy Program at NYU School of Law's Brennan Center for Justice, put it.

During the same session, the committee also reportedly voted to abolish public financing for presidential elections, passing the Eliminating the Presidential Election Campaign Fund Act (HR 133).

According to USA Today reporter Fredreka Schouten:

Tuesday's votes were seen by advocacy groups a direct attack on democracy. Ahead of the hearing, the Brennan Center and a separate coalition of 38 pro-democracy groups sent letters urging members to oppose both measures.

"At stake is the survival of the public financing system for presidential elections and a commission that plays a vitally important role in standardizing and modernizing election administration," wrote (pdf) the coalition, which includes Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, NAACP, U.S. PIRG, and Public Citizen, among many others.

The Brennan Center letter, signed by Weiser as well as the center's director and counsel Nicole Austin-Hillery, cites the "impending crisis" in voting technology, identified by a bipartisan commission in 2014 and outlined in a subsequent Brennan Center report, and warns that the EAC is "the only federal agency which has as its central mission" the improvement of elections.

It states:

Among that report's key findings were that the vast majority of voting machines in use today are either perilously close to or exceed their expected lifespans; that policymakers have not been responsive to election officials' calls for new equipment; and that more problems may arise the longer we delay purchasing new equipment. Those problems include increased machine failures, and security and reliability flaws. When these vulnerabilities are coupled with credible reports that Russian cybercriminals already attempted to access state voter registration systems, insecure voting machines can place our democracy at serious risk, at the very least of a loss of public faith in our elections.

Further, Weiser and Austin-Hillery describe the now-threatened presidential public financing system as "one of the few remaining tools to increase the voice of everyday Americans vis-à-vis the rising tide of special interest money that has flooded the political system since the Supreme Court's controversial decision in Citizens United." 

While acknowledging that the current financing system is out of date, the coalition similarly warned, "Now is the time to upgrade our presidential public financing system to empower small donors. Eliminating the presidential public financing system will ensure  that the presidency is in the hands of the nation's wealthiest individuals and special interest groups."

Reporting on the vote, The Nation's Ari Berman on Tuesday observed, "It's particularly ironic that the Trump administration is preparing to launch a massive investigation into nonexistent voter fraud based on the lie that millions voted illegally while House Republicans are shutting down the agency that is supposed to make sure America's elections are secure. It's more proof of how the GOP's real agenda is to make it harder to vote."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just a few days left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.
No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark. All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

 

 

'Horrific': 50 Migrants Found Dead in Abandoned Trailer Truck in Texas

"We need to end Title 42 and fix our broken immigration system so these unimaginable tragedies stop happening," said Rep. Chuy García. "People fleeing violence and poverty deserve a chance at a better life."

Jake Johnson ·


Harris Says White House Not 'Discussing' Use of Federal Land for Abortion Care

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are among the Democratic lawmakers who have expressed support for the idea as GOP-controlled states move to outlaw abortion.

Jake Johnson ·


Abortion Rights Defenders Applaud Judge's Block on Utah 'Trigger Ban'

"Today is a win, but it is only the first step in what will undoubtedly be a long and difficult fight," said one pro-choice advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·


Scores Feared Dead and Wounded as Russian Missiles Hit Ukraine Shopping Center

"People just burned alive," said Ukraine's interior minister, while the head of the Poltava region stated that "it is too early to talk about the final number of the killed."

Brett Wilkins ·


Biodiversity Risks Could Persist for Decades After Global Temperature Peak

One study co-author said the findings "should act as a wake-up call that delaying emissions cuts will mean a temperature overshoot that comes at an astronomical cost to nature and humans that unproven negative emission technologies cannot simply reverse."

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo