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Transcript: David Becker on "Face the Nation," January 9, 2022

Elections expert denounces "efforts to sow confusion and chaos"
Elections expert denounces "efforts to sow co... 06:30

The following is a transcript of an interview with David Becker, executive director and founder of the Center for Election Innovation & Research, that aired Sunday, January 9, 2022, on "Face the Nation."


MARGARET BRENNAN: Now, to the Director and Founder of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, David Becker. Good morning to you, David. 

DAVID BECKER: Good morning, MARGARET. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: If- I want to talk about a number of things, but is there anything there that the Secretary laid out that you would like to respond to? I know specifically on voter I.D. and what he referred to as ballot harvesting. You have some views.

BECKER: Well, I mean, I think there's room for disagreement in the states on a variety of the administrative policies around elections, how many ballots a third party might be able to deliver from a place like a nursing home, how rigid an I.D. system has to be and what kind of failsafe is there to make sure that eligible voters don't excluded because- they don't get excluded from voting because they don't happen to have I.D? But I think what we're really worried about at this- in this moment of time right now because of the lies being spread by the losing presidential candidate, are the efforts to sow confusion and chaos into the vote counting and certification process. That's what I'm really working on and looking at in the states, and it's something I know Secretary Raffensperger and his colleagues, both Republican and Democrat around the country are looking at.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And we mentioned that earlier with the Speaker of the House. But looking nationwide, 25 states enacted 62 laws that expanded voting since 2020. Nearly all of them have Democratic controlled legislatures. 19 states enacted 34 voting restrictive laws. All of those have GOP controlled legislatures. When you look at that breakdown, what does this say to you and when it comes specifically to Georgia, is it really the case that what they have done is Jim Crow on steroids as President Biden refers to it, because the Secretary of State there says that's not what he's saying.

BECKER: Well, I think what you're seeing, obviously, that's not the sign of a healthy democracy and our democracy is in crisis right now. I'm as concerned as I've ever been. And certainly, in those states where Republican's control majorities in the legislatures, those majorities are being fueled by the lies from the losing presidential candidate of their party. We are now over 400 days after what was, by any measure, the most secure, transparent, scrutinized and verified election in American history. More audits of those ballots than ever before. More court scrutiny and verification of the outcomes than ever before, including judges appointed by the losing presidential candidate himself. And so, in states like Texas, Florida, Arizona and yes, even Georgia, we see election policy being considered in a way that's not entirely constructive. It is partisan. It's based on some false premises about how well the election was run. The facts are in Georgia and in those other states and throughout the country the election was run exceedingly well. It's remarkable how well it was run, with resources being scarce with the highest turnout we've ever seen and in the middle of a global pandemic. So, in Georgia, it's true compared to most of the other states. Georgia actually has pretty accessible voting policies. But that being said, the legislature removed some powers from Secretary Raffensperger, who he and his staff did a remarkably good job in 2020. They have injected some chaos into the counting and certification process that doesn't need to be there. But in other states like Texas, it's even worse, where the voting laws are much more restrictive and there's even more chaos being injected into the process.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, because of what's happening at the state level, the White House is making the broader argument that there needs to be more federal election law crafted. They are putting their shoulder behind two bills, and we're going to hear from the president in the coming days about the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. The White House says these are absolutely essential. They don't have the votes to pass either of them. But on the premise here that there needs to be more federal oversight, do you agree?

BECKER: I think that there could be some value right now, given the unprecedented attack on our democracy and the fact that tens of millions of American citizens have been led to believe, fueled by lies, that our system does not have integrity. And just to be clear, we have the most integrity in American elections than we've ever had in American history at this moment in time. And that will continue to grow. But there could be some use for some federal standards. There's a lot of good things in those two bills, but as you noted, it's highly unlikely that either has even 50 votes to pass the Senate. But if there could be a truly bipartisan effort to look at the crisis issues in our democracy and try to find ways to resolve them so that we don't have confusion and chaos in the post-election period, that the person who gets the most votes is declared the winner under systems that are transparent, that would be really good.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So, one of the ideas that was floated in the past week was trying to update the Electoral Count Act. So that's something that even some of the Democrats on the Jan. 6 Committee, including Congresswoman Lofgren, had supported updating that kind of arcane law, which was at the heart of some of the premise of disputing Jan. 6th. But both the Vice President and the Senate minority leader both really shot that down this week. In fact, Senator Schumer said, clarifying the Electoral Count Act is a distraction. And so, this is a quote, "it's sort of like saying, well, I'm going to rig the game, but then I will make sure you count the score accurately. What the hell is the point if you rigged the game to count the score accurately?" Were you surprised to hear that kind of language from the Democratic leader, and should it be reformed, the Electoral Count Act?

BECKER: Yeah, well, there's obviously a lot of politics being played right now in terms of getting whatever bills that can be passed moved in the next year as we enter the midterm elections. But I agree with many experts and members of both parties that it'd be good to clarify and revise the Electoral Count Act of 1877- 1887 rather. And- and to make it clear that the joint session of Congress is purely a ceremonial session. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.

BECKER: They are just counting the votes. It's really- it's really like the Oscars. They're not voting on who won best picture. --

MARGARET BRENNAN: Exactly.

BECKER: – They're just announcing who won best picture.-- 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Exactly. 

BECKER: And similarly, that's what the joint session would do, and I think that'd be really valuable.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Exactly. Thank you, David Becker, for your perspective, as always. We'll be back in a moment.

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