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Faith Organization Letter Against Funding the Commission on Election Integrity

Faith Organization Letter Against Funding the Commission on Election Integrity

Representative Paul Ryan
Speaker
U.S. House of Representatives
1233 Longworth House Office Building, SE
Washington, D.C. 20515

Representative Nancy Pelosi
U.S. Democratic Leader
House of Representatives
235 Cannon House Office Building, SE
Washington, D.C. 20515

Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen
Chairman, Committee on Appropriations
U.S. House of Representatives
2306 Rayburn House Office Building, SW
Washington, D.C. 20515

Representative Nita Lowey
Ranking Member, Committee on Appropriations
U.S. House of Representatives
2365 Rayburn House Office Building, SW
Washington, D.C. 20515

Representative Tom Graves
Chair, Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government
U.S. House of Representatives
2078 Rayburn House Office Building, SW
Washington, D.C. 20515

Senator Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
U.S. Senate
317 Russell Senate Office Building, NE
Washington, D.C. 20510

Senator Chuck Schumer
Minority Leader
U.S. Senate
322 Hart Senate Office Building, NE
Washington, D.C. 20510

Senator Thad Cochran
Chair, Committee on Appropriations
U.S. Senate
113 Dirksen Senate Office Building, NE
Washington, D.C. 20510

Senator Patrick Leahy
Ranking Member, Committee on Appropriations
U.S. Senate
437 Russell Senate Office Building, NE
Washington, D.C. 20510

Senator Shelley Moore Capito
Chair, Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government
U.S. Senate
172 Russell Senate Office Building, NE
Washington, D.C. 20510

 

July 20, 2017

Dear Member of Congress:

On behalf of the 24 undersigned faith organizations, representing the breadth and depth of America’s religious communities, we urge you not to fund the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity (the commission) during the appropriations process. The commission, which exists solely to perpetuate unsubstantiated myths of widespread voter fraud and to lay the groundwork for restrictions on the right to vote, will not bolster the integrity of our elections. We ask that you refrain from directing taxpayer dollars to an operation that threatens a cornerstone of our democracy.

The commission was designed to advance baseless claims made by President Trump and others of widespread voter fraud during recent elections in the United States. Several comprehensive studies have debunked such a myth, finding only a handful of voter fraud cases in recent history. One such study put the rate of voter fraud in the United States between 0.0003 and 0.0025 percent.[1] Since the commission was created in May and after only one official meeting, it has already generated a storm of controversy by making an unprecedented request of voter data from state election administrators, which has been met with legal challenges and condemnation from both sides of the aisle.[2]

While spreading false myths and requesting sensitive data, the commission has failed to recognize the greatest threat to the integrity of our elections: widespread restrictions that prevent eligible voters from casting their ballots. These policies, including strict voter ID requirements, reduced early voting and complex voter registration procedures, disproportionately impact people of color, low income people, young people and the elderly. A law putting many of these restrictions in place in North Carolina was struck down by a federal court because it targeted “African-Americans with almost surgical precision.”[3] Discriminatory barriers to voting diminish faith in the integrity and legitimacy of our democracy.

We represent a diversity of faith traditions, but are united in our belief that our democracy works best when more people participate. Our traditions teach us to take responsibility for the well-being of our community by taking part in civic affairs. Moreover, we are taught to work for a society that safeguards the rights of all people – especially the sacred right to vote. People of every faith have worked tirelessly to expand the franchise, and we stand ready to protect that progress from efforts to suppress the vote under false pretenses.

Taxpayer funds should go towards efforts to encourage voter participation, rather than a commission intended to restrict voting rights. In these moments of division and strife, Congress must send the message that the voting booth is open to all eligible voters, regardless of race, class, faith or political affiliation. In your role in the appropriations process, we urge you to ensure that no funding is set aside for the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

Sincerely,

Ameinu (Our People)
American Conference of Cantors
Anti-Defamtion League
Avodah
Aytzim: Ecological Judaism
Bend the Arc Jewish Action
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, US Provinces
Franciscan Action Network
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
National Council of Churches
National Council of Jewish Women
Pax Christi USA
Rabbinical Assembly
Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Reconstructionist Rabbinical College/Jewish Reconstructionist Communities
The United Methodist Church - General Board of Church and Society
Tivnu: Building Justice
Union for Reform Judaism
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
Uri L'Tzedek
Women of Reform Judaism

cc: Members of the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government
Members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government

 

[1] Brennan Center for Justice: “Debunking the Voter Fraud Myth.” http://www.brennancenter.org/analysis/debunking-voter-fraud-myth

[3] The New York Times: “Strict North Carolina Voter ID Law Thwarted After Supreme Court Rejects Case.” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/15/us/politics/voter-id-laws-supreme-court-north-carolina.html?_r=0

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose nearly 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis. Visit www.rac.org for more.

 

Published: 07/20/2017

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