Former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats has urged Congress to create a commission of “elder statesmen” to restore faith in the US electoral process by monitoring November’s vote.
In an op-ed for the New York Times on Thursday, Coats called for a “supremely high-level bipartisan and nonpartisan commission to oversee the election.” While such a commission wouldn’t “circumvent existing electoral reporting systems or those that tabulate, evaluate or certify the results,” it would supervise those activities and ensure their incorruptibility, he suggested.
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Warning that “our democracy’s enemies, foreign and domestic” were licking their lips at the prospect of a fraudulent or contested election, Coats insisted the only way to thwart their machinations was to strip away the partisan bickering – by oath, if necessary. His electoral integrity commission would “accept as a personal moral responsibility to put the integrity and fairness of the electoral process above everything else.”
“We must firmly, unambiguously reassure all Americans that their vote will be counted, that it will matter, that their votes will not be questioned and will be respected and accepted,” he proclaimed – emphasizing that the goal of the commission would be “public reassurance” rather than actually ensuring every vote was counted.
Coats all but nominated himself to lead the commission, suggesting members should include “congressional leaders, current and former governors, ‘elder statespersons’, former national security leaders,” former Supreme Court justices, and even “business leaders from social media companies.”
Some on social media questioned his apparent power-grab, noting there were already four federal bodies and 50 state entities tasked with ensuring election integrity, and that he – not “enemies foreign and domestic” – was the one calling their work into question.
Dan Coats wants a special commission to watch over the election. Okay, but… we already have the FEC, 50 state election security offices, the DHS Election Security division, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and the FBI Foreign Influence Task Force.https://t.co/EAijpz5GOT
— Jim Geraghty (@jimgeraghty) September 17, 2020
Others declined to trust Coats due to his service in the Trump administration and continuing coziness with its cabinet. “This is the worst idea EVER!!” one commenter responded.
As a ‘good buddy’ of Pence, can we TRUST the recommendation of Dan Coats? Who would be on this bi-partisan commission? Until we have more details, I’m not sure this is completely trustworthy, despite my sincere respect for your opinion.
— BarbM1712 (@barmb17123) September 17, 2020
A few reeled at the idea of social media billionaires being given even more influence over the electoral process.
Dan Coats just wrote an Op-Ed suggesting that social media leaders should help to oversee the US elections. As Thomas Frank has noted, our elites never acknowledge how many stupid ideas they promote & hence can’t understand why “the deplorables” view them with increasing contempt pic.twitter.com/PzkrN52SR4
— Marshall Auerback (@Mauerback) September 17, 2020
However, many blue-checks applauded his idea.
->This is a good idea from Dan Coats, former DNI under Trump: a high-level bi-partisan/non-partisan election commission made up of elected officials + former ones, former Supreme Court justices, to oversee & help guarantee the sanctity of the election. <- https://t.co/KBtKJfAOVH
— Richard Stengel (@stengel) September 17, 2020
Dan Coats recommends a bipartisan commission to oversee this election, and I think we should establish it today and make it a practice in all future elections. https://t.co/mnnoeAzLRV
— PantsuitPolitics (@PantsuitPolitic) September 17, 2020
Others even insisted his op-ed didn’t go far enough, daring him to call President Donald Trump, Attorney General William Barr, or other pet bogeymen out by name and accusing him of doing “too little, too late.”
Dan Coats calls out
“our democracy’s enemies” who claim “our voting systems are faulty or fraudulent” and “sinister conspiracies have distorted the political will”
He’s talking about one person: Trump
Now is not the time for subtlety. Coats needs to call him out directly
— Chris Lu (@ChrisLu44) September 17, 2020
He needs to call out Barr as well. His recent statements are terrifying if he believes the pure malice issuing forth in his well-modulated voice. Very dangerous. #ImpeachBarr #ImpeachTrumpAgain pic.twitter.com/yuIBSUC7wy
— Chris-Cat “Don’t Agonize! Organize!” 🆘😷🆘 (@svizzerams) September 17, 2020
And a few specifically accused the former spook-in-chief of cowardice for holding back on his former boss. “Speak up!” one person urged, branding Coats a “coward.”
Add Dan Coats. His pathetic oped is riddled with fear of trump and the GOP. You could easily believe the Times edited it for both sidesing and not being harsh on trump.
YOU WERE DNI! GROW A PAIR! Speak up!
Fucking coward. https://t.co/RvOtogXd85
— The Mean Progressive ™ (@MeanProgress) September 17, 2020
Members of Dan Coats’ political party in Congress will NEVER agree to do anything that might stand in the way of Donald Trump’s re-election. Especially the creation of any “election oversight commission”. Coats has got to know this. He can’t be this naive.
— JohnRJohnson (@JohnRJohnson) September 17, 2020
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