Davis Delivers Opening Statement at Hearing on Impact of COVID-19 on Elections
WASHINGTON - Committee on House Administration Ranking Member Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) delivered the following statement during a Subcommittee on Elections hearing titled, "The Impact Of COVID-19 On Voting Rights And Election Administration: Ensuring Safe And Fair Elections."
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The Impact Of COVID-19 On Elections
Davis' remarks as prepared for delivery:
As a nation we are facing a number of crises, and not just related to the COVID-19 and elections. It is more critical than ever that our electoral systems are efficient, trustworthy, and secure. As a Subcommittee, we have the opportunity today to do the work the American people demand of us. I am committed, as I have always been, to ensuring every eligible American is able to freely vote. But I cannot surrender or dilute the sanctity of a single vote for changes in our laws that risk undermining the integrity of our elections. Unfortunately, I believe many of the changes proposed by the majority this Congress would do just that.
Today, as we explore how the coronavirus has and will continue to impact election administration, we must note that many of the changes proposed by the majority were proposed prior to the coronavirus. H.R. 1, for instance, included same-day registration, required early voting, vote by mail expansion, and required the counting of provisional ballots; all items that Speaker Pelosi has once again put forward. Some of the proposals recently put forth have nothing to do with limiting the spread of the virus. For example, allowing unlimited ballot harvesting would likely have the opposite effect by placing ballot brokers in the living rooms of voters. Other ideas may have merit and I welcome the opportunity to explore these at this hearing.
When it comes to issues of election administration, I believe I have proven to be pragmatic and willing to listen to reason. For instance, when the National Association of Secretaries of State raised concerns over federally appropriated funds in the CARES Act, I sent a letter to Chairperson Lofgren expressing my willingness to explore their concerns. I have also put forward my own ideas about how to reform the elections process. I have introduced four separate pieces of legislation meant to strengthen, not only our elections, but also the American public’s faith in them. If there is a way to strengthen our democracy at the federal level, without trampling the rights of our states, I am all for it.
However, I want to be very clear about my policy priorities, which are informed by the work of this committee over the last 18 months. First, live ballots should not be mailed to those who didn’t request one. This is especially true in states like California where voter registration lists have not been maintained, leading to situations like in Los Angeles county where potentially 1.5 million ineligible voters sit on the rolls. Second, we must not allow nationwide, unlimited ballot harvesting. And finally, we must not allow ballots returned or post marked after Election Day to be counted, nor must we allow ballots returned before Election Day to be counted early. These proposals risk the integrity of our elections process and are frankly, irresponsible. If we can move past these items, then Madame Chair, you will find a willing partner in me.
Priorities For The 2020 General Election
The question then is, where do we begin? Heading into the 2020 general election I have three priorities. One, all voters who choose to vote in person must be able to do so safely. I believe the funds included in the CARES Act have, and will, go a long way in this effort. Two, states that wish to expand their vote-by-mail and absentee operations must do so without sacrificing the security of the vote. This must include voter list maintenance; this one requirement, if enforced, could dramatically reduce the time many voters have to spend in line and significantly reduce the number of personnel needed to administer an election. And three, states and the federal government must work together to ensure the American public view the 2020 election with legitimacy.
Critical to all three of these priorities is vote-by-mail. I support states that are taking steps to increase their capacity for mail-in voting. But to presume that every state should, or even can, dramatically increase this capacity is ridiculous.
Many states, including two represented today, had less than 4% of voters participate in the last election through casting an absentee ballot. To ask that they move to a primarily vote-by-mail system prior to November would be to ignore the realities of election administration and the very real lack of equipment to make such a transition, some of which takes months to manufacture and deliver.
Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security has warned states against reducing in-person voting locations in favor of vote-by-mail as it could have a dramatic effect on voter access, lines, and congestion. This is exactly what happen in Milwaukee where in-person voting locations were reduced from over a hundred, to just five.
Further, to ask state populations who have never voted by mail before to suddenly do so, with little to no public education, would disenfranchise these voters. Election officials reject almost 2 percent of ballots cast by mail for a variety of reasons, this is double the rate for in-person voting. If we want to talk voting rights, that is a voting rights issue.
While I do not have the time to discuss every policy proposal, I want to reiterate that our effort cannot, and will not, end here today. I look forward to hearing from our witnesses. I yield back.
The post Davis Delivers Opening Statement at Hearing on Impact of COVID-19 on Elections appeared first on ValueWalk.
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Forget Ron DeSantis: Walt Disney has a much bigger problem
The company’s political woes are a sideshow to the one key issue Bob Iger has to solve.
Walt Disney has a massive, but solvable, problem.
The company's current skirmishes with Florida Gov. DeSantis get a lot of headlines, but they're not having a major impact on the company's bottom line.
DeSantis has made Walt Disney (DIS) - Get Free Report a target in what he calls his war on woke, an effort to win right-wing support as he tries to secure the Republican Party nomination for president.
That effort has generated plenty of press and multiple lawsuits tied to the governor's takeover of the former Reedy Creek Improvement District, Disney's legislated self-governance operation. But it has not hurt revenue at the company's massive Florida theme-park complex.
Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger addressed the matter during the company's third-quarter-earnings call, without directly mentioning DeSantis.
"Walt Disney World is still performing well above precovid levels: 21% higher in revenue and 29% higher in operating income compared to fiscal 2019," he said.
And "following a number of recent changes we've implemented, we continue to see positive guest-experience ratings in our theme parks, including Walt Disney World, and positive indicators for guests looking to book future visits."
The theme parks are not Disney's problem. The death of the movie business is, however, a hurdle that Iger has yet to show that the company has a plan to clear.
Disney needs a plan to monetize content
In 2019 Walt Disney drew in more $11 billion in global box office, or $13 billion when you add in the former Fox properties it also owns. In that year seven Mouse House films crossed the billion-dollar threshold in theaters, according to data from Box Office Mojo.
This year, the company will struggle to reach half that and it has no billion-dollar films, with "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" closing its theatrical run at $845 million globally.
(That's actually good for third place this year, as only "Barbie" and "The Super Mario Bros. Movie" have broken the billion-dollar mark and they may be the only two films to do that this year.)
In the precovid world Disney could release two Pixar movies, three Marvel films, a live-action remake of an animated classic, and maybe one other film that each would be nearly guaranteed to earn $1 billion at the box office.
That's simply not how the movie business works anymore. While theaters may remain part of Disney's plan to monetize its content, the past isn't coming back. Theaters may remain a piece of the movie-release puzzle, but 2023 isn't an anomaly or a bad release schedule.
Consumers have big TVs at home and they're more than happy to watch most films on them.
Disney owns the IP but charges too little
People aren't less interested in Marvel and Star Wars; they're just getting their fix from Disney+ at an absurdly low price.
Over the past couple of months through the next few weeks, I will have watched about seven hours of premium Star Wars content and five hours of top-tier Marvel content with "Ahsoka" and "Loki" respectively.
Before the covid pandemic, I gladly would have paid theater prices for each movie in those respective universes. Now, I have consumed about six movies worth of premium content for less than the price of two movie tickets.
By making its premium content television shows available on a service that people can buy for $7.99 a month Disney has devalued its most valuable asset, its intellectual property.
Consumers have shown that they will pay the $10 to $15 cost of a movie ticket to see what happens next in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or the Star Wars galaxy. But the company has offered top-tier content from those franchises at a lower price.
Iger needs to find a way to replace billions of dollars in lost box office, but charging less for the company's content makes no sense.
Now, some fans likely won't pay triple the price for Disney+. But if it were to bundle a direct-to-consumer ESPN along with content that currently gets released to movie theaters, Disney might create a package that it can price in a way that reflects the value of its IP.
Consumers want Disney's content and they will likely pay more for it. Iger simply has to find a way to make that happen.
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