Letter to Merrick Garland, Attorney General of the United States - Congresswoman Tenney Demands DOJ Enforcement of Critical Election Integrity Law


Dear Attorney General Garland:

As you may know, the Civil Rights Act of 1960 requires election officials to retain election documents and records for 22 months after a federal election. This is crucial to maintaining transparency for the American people. However, a new report from the America First Policy Institute (AFPI), titled National Review of Retaining Election Records from the 2020 Election, has shed light on the systematic failure of key jurisdictions to comply with this requirement. A majority of the most populous counties in key swing states were unable to produce documents to demonstrate their compliance with the Civil Rights Act. We therefore ask that you take immediate action to investigate non-compliance with the Civil Rights Act in the 2020 election and take all steps necessary to ensure compliance in the 2022 election and beyond.

Failing to comply with the document and record retention requirement under Section 301 of the Civil Rights Act of 1960 is a federal offense punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 or a term of imprisonment of not more than one year. Failure to comply with this law also undermines faith in our elections at a time when confidence is already at an all-time low. After all, once an election is conducted, the public and elected officials should, pursuant to law, be able to verify that the number of votes is consistent with the number of voters in each election.

Despite this, AFPI's report revealed that just six of the 100 most populous counties in important swing states are complying with this federal law, making it nearly impossible to verify whether the number of votes in the 2020 election was consistent with the number of voters in each jurisdiction. This should be a simple task for the public, elections officials, and observers alike. Unfortunately, many of our officials are failing at their most basic responsibilities. Even worse is that of the six counties that were able to demonstrate a degree of compliance with the law, the average difference between the number of ballots cast and the numbers of voters recorded as casting their ballots was as high as 8.8%, demonstrating either malfeasance or gross incompetence. This is simply unacceptable. The public deserves better, and state elections officials must work quickly to ensure the accuracy and integrity of all elections.

The Department of Justice has a responsibility to enforce the Civil Rights Act of 1960, and I strongly urge you to begin doing so immediately. We therefore ask that you undertake immediate action to determine which jurisdictions nationwide may continue to be in violation of the Section 301 of the Civil Rights Act of 1960 for failing to maintain documents from the 2020 election. Additionally, with the 2022 elections approaching, we also request that you act swiftly to ensure jurisdictions are complying with records requirements moving forward.

The great American experiment depends on faith in the democratic process and trust in our institutions. We call on you today to ensure American elections are administered in full compliance with the law. We look forward to your timely response to this concerning issue.