Congressman Steve Cohen

Representing the 9th District of Tennessee

Ranking Members Cohen and Jackson Lee: President Trump Should Immediately Disband the Commission on Election Integrity

July 10, 2017
Press Release
The Commission’s request for personal information potentially violates voters’ rights to privacy

[WASHINGTON, DC] – Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations, today sent a letter to President Donald Trump requesting that the President rescind his May 11, 2017 Executive Order creating the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity and direct the Commission to cease operations and disband immediately. In the letter, Congressman Cohen and Congresswoman Jackson-Lee, “express serious concerns with the Commission’s request for the personal information of voters from states to investigate unsubstantiated claims that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election.”  They also cite the potential violations of voters’ rights to privacy and security concerns with the online portal through which states are asked to supply the sensitive information. 

“President Trump’s claim of widespread voter fraud in this country is fake news,” said Congressman Cohen. “The President’s creation of the so-called Commission on Election Integrity is an excuse to make it harder, not easier, for people to exercise their constitutional right to vote. The President is willing to jeopardize the security of voters’ private and sensitive information in an attempt to validate his alternate reality while refusing to confirm Russia’s involvement in the 2016 Presidential election. We should be working to make our voting process safer and more secure from hackers and outside forces.”     

“There is no denying that our election system is under assault, but not in the way Trump imagines,” said Congresswoman Jackson Lee. “Instead of wasting taxpayer money to fund an investigation into voter fraud, which is as mythical as a unicorn, American democracy would be better served by focusing on and correcting the real problem with our elections – voter suppression and external, illegal, and international interference in our national elections.”

A PDF of the letter can be found here and a copy of the text of the letter is below.
 

July 10, 2017
 

President Donald J. Trump

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W.

Washington, D.C., 20500
 

Dear Mr. President:

We write to express our serious concerns with the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity’s request for the personal information of voters from states to investigate unsubstantiated claims that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election.  This information requested includes: the full first and last names of all registrants, middle names or initials if available, addresses, dates of birth, political party, last four digits of social security number if available, voter history (elections voted in from 2006 onward), active/inactive status, cancelled status, information regarding any felony convictions, information regarding voter registration in another state, information regarding military status, and overseas citizen information.[1]

The request potentially violates voters’ rights to privacy.  Additionally, we have serious reservations regarding the security of the online portal though which the Commission requested states supply the information. Such a collection of personal information would be a prime target for hacking by criminals, terrorists, and agents of foreign governments notwithstanding the Commission’s claim that the data will be held on a “secure FTP site.”

We are further concerned that the Commission has been established on the false premise that millions of people supposedly voted illegally in the 2016 election.[2]  To date, there is simply no evidence.[3]

Moreover, despite this lack of evidence, it appears Commission Vice Chairman Kris Kobach has apparently already concluded that the President is, “absolutely correct when he says the number of illegal votes cast exceeds the popular vote margin between him and Hillary Clinton.”[4]

Mr. Kobach has a record of attempting to disenfranchise voters.  Last year, the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit rebuked him for the mass disenfranchisement of thousands of people who registered to vote when they renewed their driver’s licenses under the National Voter Registration Act.  In the same case, a federal magistrate judge fined Mr. Kobach for making, “patently misleading representations to the court.”[5]

Since the Commission on Election Integrity is incapable of protecting the precious right to vote or safeguarding the integrity of our electoral system, the President should rescind his May 11, 2017 Executive Order and direct the Commission to cease operations and disband immediately.

Sincerely,

 

Steve Cohen                                      Shelia Jackson Lee

Member of Congress                       Member of Congress