Today, Common Cause and the Arab American Institute sent a joint letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates (“CPD”) calling for mechanisms in future debates designed to combat the spread of election disinformation and promote trust in our democratic process.

The first presidential debate of 2020, which occurred on September 29th, was replete with false statements from President Donald Trump regarding the ongoing election, including unsubstantiated accusations of election fraud and attempts at undermining faith in voting by mail.

Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn stated, “For decades Presidential debates have helped to inform the public and define the candidates’ policy positions, but President Trump on Tuesday chose to misuse the platform to spread voting-related disinformation and lies to try to undermine Americans’ faith in the integrity of our elections. As the commission reevaluates the debate structure in the wake of the debacle that unfolded on national television earlier this week, we are urging the commissioners to find a way to keep future debates from being commandeered to spread lies and conspiracy theories in an attempt to shake the nation’s trust in the bedrock of our democracy – our elections. The integrity of our elections and democracy should not be up for debate.”

AAI Executive Director Maya Berry stated, “Given the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic—which has now regrettably reached the White House—and the necessary adjustments to our traditional election procedures, accurate voting information and trust in the process are more vital than ever. Yet President Trump did just the opposite on the national stage earlier this week, proliferating disinformation which went uncorrected during the program. Importantly, the impact of the President’s rhetoric will be felt disproportionately by historically targeted communities, including Arab Americans.”

The joint letter specifically calls on future presidential debate moderators to provide information to viewers on how they can vote and to affirm the safety of voting, as well as highlight trusted sources of election-related information, such as state secretaries of state, local boards of elections, or other relevant election officials.

To view the letter, click here.