On Tuesday, House Republicans voted to eliminate an independent commission that is tasked with assisting states with their voting systems and combating fraud, as reported by the New York Times. The dissolution of the group comes as Donald Trump has (repeatedly and falsely) insisted there was extensive voter fraud during the election. He’s also vowed to launch a full-scale investigation; although that has not come to fruition yet.
The group, the Election Assistance Commission (EAC), was in charge of helping states smoothly run their elections and assisting with voting machines (also guarding against hacking and meddling). The EAC was established after the 2000 election, when hanging chads became an addition to the American zeitgeist.
But the efforts of the EAC are no more, as the House Administration Committee voted 6-3 (along party lines to boot) to eliminate the group. And with reports of Russia’s fingerprints all over the election, this does not bode well. Perhaps this subject will come up at tomorrow’s White House press conference.
Trump has continued to insist that he lost the popular vote because 3 to 5 million votes were illegally cast, although he has not produced any evidence to back up his claim. He didn’t entrust the EAC to assist him with the investigation, instead choosing a lone volunteer, Gregg Phillips, to get to the bottom of it. And on Monday, he tasked Vice President Mike Pence with leading an investigation into the supposed fraud. But with most things relating to Trump, he may just drop it after making a big fuss.
Update: EAC Commission Chair Thomas Hicks issued a statement saying the group is still up and running, saying efforts to dismantle it are “out of step with the current U.S. election landscape:”
“Efforts to dismantle the Election Assistance Commission are seriously out of step with the current U.S. election landscape. At a time when the Department of Homeland Security has designated election systems as part of the country’s critical infrastructure, election officials face cybersecurity threats, our nation’s voting machinery is aging and there are accusations of election irregularities, the EAC is the only federal agency bridging the gap between federal guidance and the needs of state and local election officials…The EAC plays an essential role in strengthening our nation’s election system. Each day we hear from state and local election officials who need our help to navigate the challenges they face. We are focused on serving them and the American voters. Congress should remain a trusted partner in that effort.”
The EAC will be installing Commissioner Matthew Masterson as the EAC Chairman at the end of February and will continue to help states during the midterm election and launch a new website, that will become the home for tools and guidance from the Presidential Commission on Election Administrations.