The House on Thursday approved a bill ending the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) that was set up to ensure states meet certain standards at the voting booth, and ending the public financing of presidential campaigns. The bill passed in a mostly partisan 235-190 vote.
The vote followed a sometimes contentious debate in which some Democrats charged that the GOP effort to end the EAC is in line with other Republican attempts to suppress voter turnout in next year’s election. The EAC was established in 2002 after the very close and controversial presidential election of 2000 election, and was meant to ensure states meet certain voting standards. The EAC has disbursed more than $3 billion in “requirements” payments to states to update voting machines and enhance election administration.
“There is no doubt that a voter suppression effort is underway in this nation,” Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) charged on the House floor. “Abolishing the Election Assistance Commission, an agency charged with ensuring that the vote of each American counts, is just another step in the voter suppression effort and would completely remove oversight of the most important process in our democracy.”
Another Democrat, Rep. William Clay (D-Mo.), said the only reason to want to end the EAC is to “suppress votes,” and said votes that would be lost are minority votes, “the same groups who were targeted by Jim Crow laws.”
“I cannot put a price on our democracy, but it would be the height of recklessness to do away with that agency when election officials tell us they most need the assistance that only EAC has or can provide,” Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-Texas) said.