Schumer Floor Remarks Calling On Leader McConnell To Establish A Special Bipartisan Committee On Election Integrity And Reiterating The Need For Election Assistance Funding To Protect Our Elections

September 16, 2020

Washington, D.C.— Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor asking again for federal election assistance to make sure that our upcoming elections are free and fair. Below are his remarks which can also be viewed here:

In forty eight days, the American people will head to the polls to cast their ballots in an election that, by necessity, will be conducted in a much different fashion than nearly any election in our nation’s history.

Because of COVID-19, there will likely be a historic increase in mail-in ballots. Mail-in voting is a process that is well-established in our country. Several states have conducted elections this way for years without any issue at all.

Because of COVID-19 also, there may be some delays in determining the result of the election while every ballot is counted. This, too, has happened before.

But there is no doubt that this election will be unique. And it means that leaders from both sides of the aisle should be joining together, now, to ensure the integrity of the election and the public’s confidence in the result.

Sadly, there are some who are systematically undermining public confidence in the voting process and irresponsibly fanning suspicions and conspiracy theories about the legitimacy of election results.

At the top of the list here is unfortunately once again the President of the United States, who has exploited and capitalized on fears about holding an election in the middle of a COVID-19 attack, about its mail-in voting and to advance comically false claims of widespread voter fraud. The President has done both of those. He’s attacked mail-in voting and had these false claims of fraud.

We are talking about the integrity of our elections here—This is the well-spring of our democracy. It’s fundamental to our democracy. Something that American soldiers have fought and died for and the president trifles with it and, of course, our Senate Republican colleagues go along.

So, today we're doing two things in this regard because we have a responsibility to do everything we can to see that this election does not mark the beginning of a new age when our election results are doubted, conspiracy theories flourish, and our grand democracy is tarnished around the world.

If we allow this kind of malicious tampering with the wellspring of our democracy—in terms of people's trust in it—it's the beginning of the end. President Trump doesn't care. We know he only cares about himself. The Senate Republicans don't say a peep. We know they are afraid of President Trump even when they disagree with him. They remain quiet, and too often they agree with him.

We cannot -- we cannot allow our people to lose faith in elections and we must do everything to ensure that they are conducted in a fair way that the American people will accept, despite COVID and all the problems it creates.

So this morning, Sen. Sanders and I have written a letter to the Republican Leader asking him to work with us to establish a special bipartisan committee, with equal representation from both parties, to guarantee the integrity of our election process.

The committee should focus on three issues. One, confirm the security of, and confidence in, our mail-in systems, vote-by-mail systems. Two, measures to ensure that every vote is counted. Three, discuss and prepare for possible post-election scenarios.

The function of the committee would be to hold hearings about what is being done around the country to make certain that our public institutions are prepared to conduct a smooth and reliable election, free from voter suppression and intimidation; that every vote will be counted; and there will be confidence in the outcome.

Senator Sanders and I and many in our caucus—including Senator Klobuchar, who I'll mention in a minute—feel very, very strongly that we have to do something. And this bipartisan committee can ensure the American people that the Senate is on top of this. We hope the Republican leader will accept our request. We hope he won't run away from his responsibility to ensure there are fair elections. We hope that he will not go along with Donald Trump's dangerous rhetoric about the fairness of our elections.

Now later today, the Senator from Minnesota and Ranking Member of the Rules Committee, Senator Klobuchar, and I will also be speaking with a bipartisan group of Secretaries of State. We will be getting a briefing on the state of our election preparedness around the country. I expect they will reiterate their call for another major priority being blocked by Senate Republicans – Election Assistance funding.  I am hopeful we can still find agreement, on a bipartisan basis, to help our states with critical funding to prepare for this historic election.

This issue is above partisan politics. It is the essence of our democracy. It is disgraceful that Republicans are playing games with this. Perhaps for electoral advantage, perhaps for fear of President Trump. But we won’t let it happen. And we as a caucus repeat to the American people: the best way to prevent an election from being manipulated or stolen is to vote. The more people vote, and the earlier they vote when they can vote early, the better off our democracy will be.