tv DNC Voting Rights Commission Holds News Conference CSPAN July 20, 2017 6:26am-7:01am EDT
diversity to our meeting locations. the first half of september is a good consensus for dates. are there any other topics you would like to consider before we adjourn this first organizational meeting? all right. do i hear a motion to adjourn? >> so moved. >> all in favor? >> aye. [gavel] >> i'm not sure. i don't know --
announcer: in response to the opening meeting of the presidential committee, the democratic national committee criticized it and question the justifications for this is half an hour. >> all right. good morning, everyone. my name is michael blake. i am one of the vice chairs for the democratic national committee. thanks for joining us today. we are grateful we are here with our chair of the commission, and the president of let america vote, congressman terri sewell, who is the vice chair of the commission we have which i will talk about the moment. secretary of state from california is here to join us. we are here because, as we know, president trump has brought forth a commission, they will be having their first meeting today, around the myth of voter fraud.
we consistently and regularly reject that. our job should be making it easier for people to vote, not harder. and so we have come forward to create a commission that is focusing on, what are we going to do to protect the opportunity for americans to vote across the country and all the time? we will be here to make sure we provide consistent response to what is coming from the trump administration. when you have leadership that has demonstrated regularly trying to find more ways for people to have difficulty to vote, that is reasons we are pushing back in this manner. we are expanding the work under our vice chair, karen carter pearson, who is overseeing civic engagement and voter participation. two again, find more ways for people to vote. we understand, we hear this nonsensical myth of voter fraud. it is not happening. we are not seeing that. what we are seeing is that people need more opportunities to go vote and we are committed to that here at the dnc. as part of that work, we
have launched the dnc commission to protect american democracy from the trump administration. we won't allow them to move forward in a manner that will hurt our communities, especially when you see the leadership is not led in a bipartisan way. their chair and vice chair are republicans. many republicans have found ways to push back against us. the commission we have pulled together is to make sure we have the democratic response to demonstrate that we are serious in making sure we push back and we hear from the trump administration and find ways for people to vote. we should be finding more ways for people to have an -- more access to vote. more ways to have an opportunity to be registered. we should be talking about early voting, vote by mail, the opportunities for communities to engage rather than the fear coming from the trump administration. as we saw, the trump administration and commission is requesting data that was obviously soundly rejected across the country in a bipartisan manner to demonstrate that is not what we should be pursuing.
lastly, this is our attempt to demonstrate the new vision of the democratic party, saying we will come together and show our leadership in all aspects, whether it is in the federal government or the states or the cities, to say people should have an opportunity to vote, not have their votes taken away. with that, a great leader of the state of missouri and across the country, the chair of our commission, jason. >> thanks, mike. i appreciate it. thanks for coming. let me start by talking about how it is that the trump commission actually got started in the first place. it is important for us to remember how this started. it started with the biggest lie that a sitting president has ever told, when president trump, at the time president-elect trump, said three to five million illegal voters voted in the election. now when he said that, most americans looked at that and understandably simply saw a deeply insecure human being who was trying to soothe his own ego about his margin of loss and the popular vote. people thought, maybe that's all this was.
i think there's a lot of truth to that, but there is more to that. that is why you haven't seen paul ryan or mitch mcconnell or other elected republican leaders stand up and say, that's not true. the reason you haven't seen that is because it fits in perfect -- perfectly with what their strategy is, which is to get a lie like that out into the ether, out into the conventional wisdom, because if people believe that, it makes a difference. this commission started as a way to try and legitimize and justify the biggest lie a sitting president has ever told. this commission being the trump commission. it has morphed from there. what it has become now is just a vehicle for voter oppression. it is important to remember what the recent gop history and voter suppression has been. i am the former secretary of state of missouri, i was the chief election in a state with a republican supermajority. i have seen the gop voter suppression playbook up close. there are three steps to it. step one is to undermine faith
in american denmark she, so people believe drastic measures have to be taken. step two is to put up obstacles to voting. step three is to put up obstacles to those obstacles. that is how the gop voter suppression playbook works, and what you are seeing from the trump commission, what i refer to as the voter suppression committee to reelect the president, what you see from them is step one in the process. it is important to remember that this isn't really, they pretend it is but it isn't a positive -- a policy difference between the parties. it is a political strategy from the republican party that goes back decades now. here is what it is about. it is not, for them, about their political strategy is not about trying to reach out and include groups like minorities, women, low income folks, the disabled. it is not about crafting policies that might include them. instead, they had this political strategy of excluding them from the political process by making it harder for certain folks to vote, including them. so the idea is that if they can keep them from voting, they can win elections.
it shouldn't be viewed as a policy difference. it should be viewed for what it is, which is a political strategy for them that is no different than where they run their tv ads or where they send mailers or whose doors they knock on. that is what voter suppression is about for them. finally, we should talk about two things. one, the data grab demonstrates what i'm talking about. number two, whose on the commission? the recent attempt to create an unprecedented database of information that includes your political party demonstrates that what this probably is is an attempt to figure out who you voted for so they can figure out -- decide whether or not to push you off the rolls. you have seen bipartisan opposition to this. you have seen people like the mississippi secretary of state, a republican, say they can go jump in the gulf of mexico. and in terms of actual voter suppression, it is already started from this commission. there are reports, unfortunately, around the country. we are encouraging people not to
do this, by the way, to do the opposite. to help get their friends registered, instead. we are seeing people across the country so concerned about this that they are pulling their voter registrations, which is an immediate demonstration of voter suppression. finally, look into is on the commission, who is leading the commission. vice president pence has a history in indiana of voter suppression, a history of attacking legitimate and patriotic voter registration drives. that is what a voter registration drive is, it is patriotic. you have folks like hans, too controversial to be on the federal election commission. finally, you have secretary of state chris kobac to my first secretary of state meeting five years ago when president obama was putting for legislation to make voting more convenient and accessible in this country, the secretary stood up and said that
his commission to do so and the legislation to do so was wrong. the federal government should have no role in any of this, that it is complete overreach. now, president trump is in power the secretary obviously , has a different view. he is somebody who is the lead vote suppressor of this country and has spent loads of kansas taxpayer dollars to prove voter fraud and has been unsuccessful. last thing i would say is, we have had this argument in this country. american heroes marched across a bridge in selma, facing dogs and batons and hoses come up with a simple idea that we all count and we all have the right to vote. we are fortunate to be joined by a native of selma, congresswoman terri sewell, the cochair of the -- vice chair of this commission, the cochair of the voting rights caucus in the house of representatives and an incredible champion for voting rights. >> thanks, jason. i want to begin by saying that while i don't believe in our president's baseless voting fraud claims, and while i don't
believe we can trust this administration with the facts, and while i am deeply disturbed by the characters who the president has chosen to put on his commission, i do agree, with our president, on one important point. our elections are in need of repair, and the american people deserve solutions that will strengthen our democracy. over the past decade, our country has seen a new wave of voter suppression tactics that keep low income and minority voters from casting their ballots. the supreme court has struck down our nation's most powerful voter protections, and our election infrastructure is out of date. we need to protect our elections online threats and cyber attacks. the integrity of our elections is at risk, but not from voter fraud. if the president is truly concerned about the integrity of our elections, that this commission has been charged to do, there are real questions that our democracy faces. like, what can we do to ensure
that every american is able to participate in our democracy? how can we restore the voting rights act of 1965 and our nation's most powerful voter protections? how can we ensure states are equipped with the most up-to-date technology to run elections? i have a great fortune of sitting on the house intelligence committee and i can tell you that our elections are in trouble. they are -- there is election integrity, but it is not because of voter fraud. it is because of voter suppression and because of our outdated infrastructure. so there are lots of things president trump can be doing to actually help americans in this democracy have better elections. but this commission is not one of them. as jason said, i have a great honor of representing my hometown of selma, alabama, as well as birmingham and montgomery, the old civil rights district, here in congress. and i can tell you people died , bled and fought for the right
to vote. it is unacceptable that this president would make a mockery out of voting by having a commission that focuses on voter fraud and not on voter suppression. this is very personal to me, because so many of my constituents marched across that bridge, died, fought for the right for all americans to have access to the ballot box. your vote is your voice, and we re on this commission, the dnc commission, we will make sure that the voices of the excluded are not always the voices of the voiceless. we plan to be that voice. i can tell you, president trump, we will be watching your commission. we will be making sure your commission stays on task, because there are integrity issues with our election process. but voter fraud is not the problem. it truly is voter suppression. i look forward to working with jason and the rest of the commission. i am honored today to introduce
next alex padilla who is the secretary of state for california, who is a champion in fighting on behalf of voter integrity for those people in california and across this nation. alex? >> thank you, representative sewell. thank you, jason and everybody who has gathered here today. it is my honor to serve on this commission as well, and yes, this is a big day. a big day for democracy, because very soon, trumps presidential -- trump's presidential advisory commission on election integrity will meet for the first time. but they will meet behind closed doors, with no ability for the public to attend, no ability for the public to view what they are going to be doing, and no opportunity for the public to begin to hold them accountable for this journey they are on now. it is understandable why. because it is clear that they
have refused to invite american citizens to witness what the trump administration's agenda really is. that is to roll back the clock on voting rights and attack our democracy. as jason laid out, the commission was created for a couple reasons. number one, to soothe the president's ego. he lost the popular vote and can't reconcile that fact. what does he do in response? he makes up the lie of millions of illegal votes cast across the country. we invited him back then, and have yet to see one shred of evidence from team trump to back up his claims of massive voter fraud. so what does he do instead? he creates a sham commission to strengthen the integrity of our elections. we are using air quotes here, because we know the truth when it comes to voter fraud. there have been studies, there have been investigations, there have been reports issued, and they all say the same thing. voter fraud is extremely rare,
and always very isolated. so if that is not where this commission is going, where are they going? we don't have to guess. look at the memo that secretary presented to then president-elect trump during the transition. it laid out a clear strategy to attack and undermine the national voter registration act. that is where this commission is going, and that is an attack on our democracy itself. a 1993 national voter registration act, which by the way, was passed on a bipartisan basis, has been one of the most important pieces of federal legislation that protects our voting rights, specifically as it pertains to facilitating people who are eligible for registering to vote. this commission is working to the contrary. they are clearly working to make it harder for eligible americans to register and to vote.
and it is not just secretary kobach. look at the other appointees of the commission. ken blackwell, j christian adams, these gentlemen have, it is clearly been documented, have spent decades working to roll back the clock on voting rights. they are going backward on voter registration, the voting rights act itself. you know, when the commission -- even before meeting, by the way, first sent a letter to state requesting an unprecedented amount of personal information on every voter in america, the letter was signed by secretary , not the vice president. it was a dangerous request, and
an invasion of privacy for every voter in america. california was one of the first, but thankfully, we are not by far the only state to push back and say no. you have seen republican and democratic secretaries alike push back on this dangerous request for sensitive voter data on all americans. just yesterday, in court papers, the commission has admitted that what do they intend to do with the data they can collect? they want to start, on white -- store it on white house
that is unacceptable and dangerous. it violates privacy, it violates voting rights, and it goes contrary to every cyber security recommendation any expert would give you. i know california has spoken. californians have spoken. we don't want our personal information in the hands of trump and anybody whose purpose is to dismantle voting rights in america. i as secretary of state, on behalf of many of my colleagues, will now, will not allow it. tens of thousands of americans have already submitted their thoughts and comments to the commission that is being convened today. they did it electronically, because that was the only invitation to submit that in comments. tens of thousands of americans have sent their opinions to the commissions, and they are saying no.
hands off of our personal information. whether it is intentional or unintentional, it is clear to me that trump and the republican congress are looking in the wrong direction. so if they were genuine about strengthening the integrity of our elections, we have the blueprint for what they should be working on. number one, don't investigate the american people. investigate russia. the intelligence community's unanimous and clear in their findings that russians interfered with the 2016 election. every day that goes by that the president and his administration continue to deny it is one day last that we have to prepare for the 2018 elections. and to maximize the security and integrity of elections forward. number two, as has and stated, new systems in the united states of america. the last time the government was a true partner in funding, upgrading, and adding secure systems to our elections was in 2002. the help america vote act was passed, also on a bipartisan basis. number three, don't eliminate, fund the eac, the election system commission. the very body we look to that sets the security standards for voting systems in the country. the very body we look to to aggregate data as to what is working and not working in elections administrations to make it at her for voters in our -- and more secure. the commission is seeking to eliminate it. we need that now more than ever. number four, restore the voting
rights act, because the blatant attacks on our voting rights have come in the last several years since a supreme court decision on shelby the holder, gutting the voting rights act. it has opened the floodgates to voter suppression laws running rampant state-by-state. we now see as the single agenda for this fraud commission and we will not stand for it. it is my honor to introduce my friend and colleague from the state of texas, representative joaquin castro. representative castro: thank you, alex, and thank you to jason kander and terri sewell for chairing this commission. this dnc commission. i think alex and everybody was -- think alex and everybody was been part of the issue -- the effort to speak up against the trump commission that undoubtedly will strip away the rights of many american voters across the country. voting shouldn't be an obstacle course.
the problem we have in the united states is not that too many people vote to often. it is that not enough people vote in each of our elections. i say that coming from the state of texas, which has among the worst records, if not the worst record, in trying to do everything it can because of its leaders, greg abbott and other republican state leaders, try to do everything it can to suppress the vote. repeatedly, federal court after federal court has found that the state government has violated the rights of so many texans, including african-american and hispanic texans. and so, when we think about voter id, which this commission is likely to promote, we are talking about a political point shaving process. they realize 95% of people may have the approved id necessary to go vote, but how many elections can you win in that 3% or 5% difference?
to speak very specifically to that the otherto , day i came across a study of harris county, the largest county in texas. several million people in harris county. in the 2016 election, after it was over, harris county voters were surveyed and one in seven voters who didn't vote said a big reason they didn't vote was because they didn't have the state approved id. in other words, the voter id laws are having that pernicious effect that was not coincidental, but intended. that is the political point shaving that is intended. if we allow this trump commission to be successful, it won't be texas and several other states that will have this problem, this will be a problem for all americans throughout the country. what is the result in the great state of texas? texas consistently ranks in the bottom three, sometimes last, in voter participation election after election.
so many people are disenfranchised. so many people have been kept from going to vote. i think it is also important to realize that there are other measures they are likely to take on this trump commission to disenfranchise voters. let me give you an example from 2011 in texas that didn't get as but attention as voter id, i think this just as pernicious in our efforts to get people up to vote. what the texas legislature did back then was, it used to be that if you were going into register, people to vote in texas, you only had to be deputized to register people, you could be deputized across the state. in other words, you just needed to be deputized in one place. they changed the law so if you wanted to register voters, you had to get registered in each of the 254 counties. in other words, you had to register in every county you had to register voters in. for harris county, you could
only register voters in harris county. you couldn't go to a neighboring county and do the same thing. so we also have to be watchful and mindful of these other behind-the-scenes smaller efforts that are also representing obstacle after obstacle. when you combine something like voter id with gerrymandering, you can see the incredible negative effect it has on our participatory democracy. i've said before, and i will speak for myself, politicians should no longer be drawing their own political districts. we have to get to a point, like california, where you have a nonpartisan or bipartisan commission that is drawing our political district across the country. then, americans will feel what the -- that the process is fair and feel more invested in the political process. we should be moving to a place of automatic voter registration. why is it we still have a system where it is two steps in order
to be able to vote? i hope one day, we can get to a place of online voting, but as terry and i know from our work on the intelligence committee, the first thing we have to do is secure our voting systems. i have been shocked, as many americans have been, by something the trump administration has not lifted a finger to do a thing about, which is the fact that there is no law on the books right now that requires those who run our election systems, whether it is counties or states, to do a single thing to guard our voting systems. there is no basic minimum requirement for cyber security protection of our voting systems that exists in the united states. that is a tragedy, and that is the real danger to our democracy. and so, i thank everybody for their efforts. we will be watching what the trump administration does. i know the american people will be watching, and again, we need to do everything possible to make sure more people vote, not to make it harder for americans to vote.
>> with that, we would be happy to answer any questions you have. you feel the concerted effort to target african-american voters, given the majority are democratic? >> yes. anybody else? [laughter] >> i think it is no coincidence that the target has been in vulnerable communities. i think it is no coincidence that the target has been in vulnerable communities of color. brown and black communities across the nation. but we can't underestimate the fact that the disabled and our senior citizens and our young folks are also disadvantaged, as well. i think if you take nothing away from this press conference come -- conference, i hope you take away the fact that we as elected officials should be about making it easier for people to vote, not making it harder.
and the fact that the trump administration would put this sham of a commission forward when there are legitimate election integrity issues that they could be taking up, instead of asking for personal identifiable information, it is a travesty and i think that the american people deserve better. and that is what we hope to work on. obviously, it is a lot of targeting. i think one north carolina appellate court said it is with surgical precision that these voter id laws were crafted in order to target african-american communities. but it is communities of color all across the country, as well as our disabled. my father, he was disabled, and while he was highly motivated to go vote because i was on the ballot, and the state of alabama introduced a voter id law that
no longer let him go vote with his valid federal id called the social security card. let me repeat that. id, -- lease issued euro federal id, social security card. the state of alabama requires a special voter card. the fact that it took our family a couple hours to get my dad ready, dressed to go to the county courthouse, and the county courthouse happened to be grandfathered into the american disabilities act so it didn't have to have a ramp. i'm a member of congress. so they quickly got several guards to help my dad in his wheelchair up the steps, only to find out that the voting registration office, which is on the second floor, the one elevator in this small county courthouse was out of order. by the time they got someone to fix it, because they were highly motivated to help my dad get to vote, the person was out to lunch. how many americans -- it is not
about how many -- counting how many marbles are in a jar. these are modern-day barriers that are just as pernicious, that are just as dangerous that stop people, average americans, from exercising their right to vote. and so, i think this commission, we will be watching, but america should be watching, as well. there is lots we can be doing to make sure we protect election integrity, but this sham of a commission is not one of them. >> others? no? sure. >> the president said on twitter month ago that millions of people voted illegally. i know you reject that. do you have a rough estimate of what the true figure is? i we talking tens or hundreds or thousands? >> well, you can look at kansas.
the person is leading the commission, not this one, the other commission, the secretary of state kobach from kansas, who spent tons of dollars, kansas taxpayer dollars, to approve the idea that there was voter fraud going on. i think at one point, in 1.7 million ballots, i think they found nine cases. it wasn't even necessarily what the president was describing. look. this is a lie. i mean, he is the president, and we are americans, so we would prefer to be polite. right? not just us, but as a country, that is our reaction. the the president tells biggest lie a president has ever told, our natural goodhearted inclination is to try and give that all the benefit of the doubt we can, but there is nothing you can use, no word you can use to describe this other than it is a lie. it is a lie and as the secretary
with -- ing complicit my colleagues from across the country here the president's lies in context. there is no truth to the massive voter fraud he claims. what he does when he repeats these allegations and he repeats this, he calls and question the -- into question the professionalism and the integrity, not just of every secretary of state or chief elections officer in the country, but the county elections directors across the land, both republican and democrat, and the countless volunteers who give up their time to serve the nation's as -- nation as poll workers. to suggest there is massive voter fraud is to impugn the integrity of somebody people who -- so many people who work so hard for the right to vote, defend the right to vote, and for those who facilitate americans exercising the right to vote. and what is the president do?
-- does the president do? he ignores what the russians did in 2016 and chooses to investigate americans? that is wrong, and that is undemocratic and un-american. >> ok, thank you all very much. appreciate it. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org]
for renewed stability in congress. then a discussion about national security with congressman jimmy panetta, cochair of the newly created democratic caucus national security task force. ♪ host: good morning. in and in her be with the new york times, president trump said he would not have picked attorney general jeff sessions if he had known he would recuse himself on the russian investigation. he also said robert mueller should not widen his scope and look beyond the russia investigation. the interview happened yesterday right after the president sat down for lunch with republican senators to publicly pressure them to move forward on repealing and replacing the affordable care act saying if they cannot agree to the draft of legislation to do so they should at least repeal now and replace later.