Kilmer, Sewell, Cummings, and 51 House Democrats Urge VP to Investigate Voter Suppression and Disenfranchisement
Washington, D.C. (Mar. 8, 2017)—Today, U.S. Representatives Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Terri Sewell (D-AL), Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), and 51 House Members sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence urging the Trump Administration to cease its “investigation” into the voter fraud myth and instead investigate the widespread issue of voter suppression. Cummings hand-delivered the letter to the White House during a meeting today with President Trump.
The Members wrote, “All Americans deserve a voice in our elections and the freedom to cast their votes without interference. However, restrictive voter suppression laws and intimidation tactics threaten that process. There are serious concerns about election laws being passed and considered by states across the country and their impact on the ability of eligible voters to access the ballot box.”
The letter requested that the Vice President appoint voter suppression experts to his task force and requested a response from him in two weeks.
The Members continued, “We firmly believe that it would be a disservice to our nation to neglect mounting concerns over voter suppression.”
On February 8, Kilmer, Sewell, Cummings, and scores of other House Members sent a letter calling on the President to investigate voter suppression as part of any investigation his Administration conducts into voting irregularities in the 2016 presidential election. Vice President Pence has reportedly begun selecting members of his voter fraud task force.
Voter fraud is practically nonexistent. A 2007 Brennan Center report found that voter fraud incident rates were only between 0.0003% and 0.0025%. In 2014, the Washington Post investigated voter fraud and found 31 credible instances from 2000 to 2014 out of more than 1 billion votes cast. The Department of Justice examined votes cast between 2002 and 2005, finding that just 0.00000013% of the votes cast resulted in voter fraud convictions or guilty pleas.
Many Republicans agree that widespread voter fraud does not exist. For example:
• House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said: “I’ve seen no evidence to that effect. I’ve made that very, very clear,” when asked about the President’s claims.
• Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said: “Look, there’s no evidence of that and I think that those who allege that have to come up with some substantiation of the claim.”
• Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) said: “I haven’t seen evidence of that.”
• Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) said: “On the voter fraud issue, that really happens at the county level. I don’t see any evidence.”
Although there is bipartisan agreement that widespread voter fraud does not exist, statehouses nationwide have used this myth to pass more restrictive voting requirements.
In 2014, a federal court in Wisconsin found that more than 300,000 registered voters in the state did not have the proper ID needed to vote because of a law signed by the Governor.
In another ruling in 2014, a federal court found that more than 600,000 registered voters in Texas at the time did not have the voter ID that the state newly required to vote.
North Carolina has eliminated same-day voter registration and cut off an entire week of early voting.
In Florida, a law bars anyone with a felony from voting unless they go to the state capital and request clemency.
A total of 14 states had restrictive new voting laws in place for the first time in a presidential election last year.
Click here for a PDF of the letter, and the full text follows:
Dear Vice President Pence:
We write to follow up on our letter to President Trump dated February 8, 2017. In that letter, 78 Members of Congress requested that any investigation that President Trump’s administration conducts into voter irregularities in the 2016 presidential election include a thorough investigation and analysis of voter suppression and disenfranchisement.
As of this date, we have not yet received a response from the President. However, we have learned that you are organizing a task force on voter fraud, and so we write to you directly to renew our call for a careful and fulsome examination of voter suppression.
We are attaching our prior letter here for your review in full. All Americans deserve a voice in our elections and the freedom to cast their votes without interference. However, restrictive voter suppression laws and intimidation tactics threaten that process. There are serious concerns about election laws being passed and considered by states across the country and their impact on the ability of eligible voters to access the ballot box.
Specifically, we write today to respectfully request that instead of investigating the myth of voter fraud, your task force thoroughly investigate and analyze the reality of voter suppression across our nation. However, if you intend to move forward with building a task force to examine voter fraud, we respectfully request that:
(1) you ensure that the scope of that task force specifically includes a thorough investigation and analysis of voter suppression and disenfranchisement across our nation; and that
(2) your task force specifically include members with special expertise in voting rights, access to the ballot box, disenfranchisement, and voter suppression laws, especially new voting laws enacted in states across the nation since the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder.
We firmly believe that it would be a disservice to our nation to neglect mounting concerns over voter suppression. We respectfully request your response to the above requests by Wednesday, March 22, and we hope to work together with you to remedy widespread voter disenfranchisement across our country.