TIME interview: Sen. Bill Frist

Former Senate Majority Leader and National Council on Election Integrity member Bill Frist (R-TN) was interviewed by Alice Park, Senior Health Correspondent for TIME Magazine as part of its TIME 100 Talks, where he touched on his work with the National Council. Watch the entire interview here.

Bill Frist: “Tom Daschle and I have an editorial on election integrity in the Washington Post, 30 of us got together, elected officials from the past, and the National Council on Election Integrity is what we call the group, and so if Tom and I said, well, if we’re gonna be out there saying that every vote counts, every vote needs to be counted, and the most important thing people can do is vote. And we have to ensure integrity of the system, which is what the editorial is about, equally important is that you got 30 people from both sides of the aisle and Senator Daschle and I, he was leader on the other side and I was leader, and we, you know, represented our parties. Since we left the United States Senate, we’ve probably written 30 to 40 op-ed pieces together. Again, we don’t agree on everything. And we’ve probably done 60 to 70 speaking engagements together, I think we need to see more of that. We need, it’s not just for past people like us, who are not on the forefront anymore, but see more of that among our elected leaders today.” 

Alice Park: You brought up election integrity. It seems that equally important is getting people to vote in the first place, and how do you do that. And with the threat of COVID-19 still looming, so many are probably facing a difficult decision about whether to exercise their civic duty and to vote, or listen to public health experts who say to avoid public crowds who could be gathered around voting places. What is your advice on voting during a pandemic? 

Bill Frist: “Well, as I said, in our op-ed with Tom Daschle, Senator Daschle: Everybody must vote, should vote, it’s probably the most primary responsibility, civic responsibility that we have that determines things like how COVID is handled, coming in. The second thing is that vote has really ought to count, that means it has to be, that elections can’t be sped up arbitrarily, they need to count each one of those votes. And that’s all part of the trust and integrity in the system. The debate was not helpful when you had the president basically saying ‘it’s a sham, you can’t trust it coming on.’ That’s not the way to address it, or it’s not presidential to address it that way because it doesn’t reflect fact. I think the fact is, when you have the military, for generations voting by ballot, not in person, and we have 46 states that have been actively doing it in the past and have not seen the corruption there that is implied means that everybody needs to vote. If you can vote in-person, I’m going to vote in person, just because I want to make it sort of crystal clear and I can’t predict what people are thinking now, but if not, the ballots are out there and there’s early voting that’s out there, you just encourage people to vote… the integrity of the process is there, and now it’s just getting people out to vote.”