Subcommittee on Elections Send Letters to DOJ, FTC, and DHS regarding Election Disinformation

May 5, 2022
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, Democrats on Elections Subcommittee of the Committee on House Administration sent letters to federal agencies seeking information related to their efforts to combat election-related misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation targeted particularly at communities of color.

The letters, sent to leaders at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and signed by Elections Subcommittee Chairman G. K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), Reps. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) and Teresa Leger-Fernandez (D- N.M.), follow hearings and roundtables convened by the Committee to survey the far reaching impact of disinformation and misinformation on elections, including a hearing on the impact of disinformation on communities of color, a roundtable in Miami, Florida on the impact of disinformation on Spanish-speaking voters, a hearing in Santa Fe, New Mexico on ballot access, and a hearing on the harmful anti-voter laws in Texas. 

“As we saw in the 2016, 2018, and 2020 elections, the proliferation of mis- and disinformation has grown at an alarming rate, especially that which is targeted at minority and non-English speaking communities,” the Subcommittee wrote. “As evidenced by information the Subcommittee gathered at a recent roundtable in Miami, Florida discussing mis- and disinformation targeted at Spanish-language voters, there is no reason to believe this will stop ahead of the 2022 election.”

Misinformation, disinformation and malinformation across social media platforms is a major concern, specifically fake and accounts known as bots, are deployed to disseminate election-related mis- and disinformation on social media platforms.  In a letter today, the Subcommittee questioned whether the FTC will exercise the authority to address this issue as outlined by former Commissioner Chopra. 

“Research conducted by Equis Research and Equis Labs, who focus on studying and reaching Latino voters, found that ‘social media networks are doing a poor job at addressing Spanish misinformation, with less moderation and posts left up longer than in English,’” the Subcommittee wrote. 

Additionally, legislative activity at state and local level are becoming increasingly important as the nation bears witness to a wave of anti-voter laws from states like TexasFlorida, and Arizona. These states have taken steps to interfere with election administration and restrict fair and free ballot access. In April, Chairs Lofgren and Maloney of the Committee on House Administration and the Committee on Oversight sent letters to state organizations of election officials in ArizonaFloridaOhio, and Texas requesting information relating to their efforts to counter election disinformation and misinformation and protect the integrity of federal elections in their states.

“All these efforts are critical to ensuring every American is able to participate in our democracy freely and fairly,” the Subcommittee added. “As members of the Committee on House Administration Subcommittee on Elections, we are concerned about the impact of mis- and disinformation on the ability of voters to cast their ballot free from interference and with accurate information, and the risk that mis- and disinformation poses to election officials.”

 

Click here to read the letter to Jen Easterly, Director of Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Stop 0380 of the Department of Homeland Security.

Click here to read the letter to Lisa Monaco, Deputy Attorney General of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Click here to read the letter to Lina Khan, Chairperson of the Federal Trade Commission.

 

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117th Congress