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Fudge Opening Remarks at Subcommittee Hearing on Misinformation in the 2020 Election

Cleveland, Ohio – Committee on House Administration Subcommittee on Elections Chairperson Marcia L. Fudge (D-Ohio) made the following opening remarks at today’s hearing, Voting Rights and Election Administration: Combatting Misinformation in the 2020 Election: 

Today we are examining misinformation in the 2020 election, how the spread of false information harms voters, and what can be done to combat this and ensure Americans go to the polls armed with accurate information.  

“This year, we cannot discuss election misinformation without also recognizing the persistent misinformation being spread about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Americans need accurate information about how to cast their ballot, about the pandemic, and, importantly, accurate information on how to cast their ballot in a manner that protects their health. Election Day may be four weeks from today, but voting is already well underway.    

“Overseas and military ballots were sent out to thousands of voters a few weeks ago. Absentee ballots can be requested now and returned in the weeks ahead.  More than 30 states are already mailing ballots to voters. Early in-person voting began in many states over the last two weeks and more will do so in the days and weeks ahead.  In fact, early voting began here in Ohio today. The American people are voting, and will be voting, now through November 3.  

“And during all of this, the President and others are waging an insidious campaign to sow distrust in our electoral process by spreading false claims that vote-by-mail is rife with fraud, making unsubstantiated claims the election will be rigged, encouraging people to vote twice, which is illegal, and more.   

“Additionally, U.S. intelligence agencies warn that Russia has continued its disinformation campaign and attempts to interfere in our election.  In 2016, no group of Americans were targeted more by Russian Internet Research Agency disinformation than African Americans. 

“The American people deserve the truth.  They deserve an election free from the real fraud of false information and voter suppression. The truth is, millions of Americans, including the President and members of his administration, cast a ballot by mail every election cycle with exceedingly rare instances of fraud. The truth is, as significantly more Americans prepare to cast their ballot from home this year than ever before, the American people must be prepared that we may not know the winner of the election on the night of November 3. And that this does not mean anything is wrong with the election.  Election night results are never final results.  Many states take days, if not weeks, to formally certify their election results.  

“Many states also allow ballots that were mailed on election day but received in the days after to be counted. The truth is that this is nothing nefarious.  It is simply about counting ballots.  The count must be accurate and that takes time. Every validly cast vote should count.  That’s democracy.  Votes mailed on election day are votes cast on election day and we should count them, not spread fear and lie about a rigged election. The misinformation being spread in the lead up to this year’s election is a disservice to voters and a danger to our democracy and our democratic institutions. The House passed the SHIELD Act in October 2019, which would address the spread of misinformation, including prohibiting the spread of false information about voting.  But the Senate refused to act.  

“It is our duty to ensure voters have all the necessary, accurate information they need to cast their ballots freely, fairly, and safely during the pandemic, and with confidence in our electoral system. I thank all our witnesses for being here today and look forward to hearing your testimony.” 

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