‘Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity’ Commences Attacks On Voting Rights

Hans von Spakovsky and Kris Kobach

“The GOP is acting like a party that doesn’t think it will have to stand in a free and fair election again,” stated Ian Millhiser on Twitter recently. This Tweet really hit home, because it kind of sums up how reckless the Republicans have been lately now that they have majority control. It was Abraham Lincoln who said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Well, now that they are being tested by the Trump administration, it appears they are indeed taking for granted that they may not have to stand in a free and fair election again. Consider the report from The Nation that reveals how the Trump administration is “planning an unprecedented attack on voting rights.”

Most disturbingly, it appears that Trump, together with the Republican majority Congress and the Department of Justice have taken four key steps (so far) to suppress votes and to make it easier for Russia or themselves to hack our upcoming elections.

The first step:
“Practically inviting Russia to try to hack our elections again” by defunding the one federal agency that prevents voting machines from being hacked, the Election Assistance Commission. The House Appropriations Committee voted to kill the EAC yesterday.

Recently Trump’s man in charge of hiring was partly responsible for leaking the detailed information about half of all American voters, (the biggest leak in history). Now The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity’s Vice Chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, has sent a letter to each state requesting “publicly available voter roll data” and soliciting feedback about voter fraud. The data would include partial social security numbers, which are private information. Kobach was sued by the ACLU four times for claims of voter suppression. Trump created the Commission by Executive Order on May 11. Mike Pence serves as Chair.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe joined some state officials in calling it out as politically motivated:

“I have no intention of honoring this request,” said Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe in a statement. “Virginia conducts fair, honest, and democratic elections, and there is no evidence of significant voter fraud in Virginia. This entire commission is based on the specious and false notion that there was widespread voter fraud last November. At best this commission was set up as a pretext to validate Donald Trump’s alternative election facts, and at worst is a tool to commit large-scale voter suppression.”

Connecticut secretary of state, Denise Merrill expressed concern about Kris Kobach:

“[…] Kris Kobach, has a lengthy record of illegally disenfranchising eligible voters in Kansas.”

From The Hill:

Kobach has backed up Trump’s claims undocumented immigrants voting in U.S. elections, though independent investigations found no evidence of any significant amount of voter fraud.

“It will be impossible to ever know what the exact number is of non-citizens voting. I think it probably was [millions],” said Kobach. “If you take the whole country, I think it is probably in excess of a million, if you take the entire country for sure,” Kobach told Fox Business in January.

Kobach isn’t acting alone though. The Department of Justice also sent their own letter to 50 states. Part of their request: “asking how they plan to remove voters from the rolls.” It’s a directive from the Feds to begin the purge. Republican states have a history of purging voter rolls in discriminatory ways. In 2000, George Bush won narrowly in a Florida vote count that many considered inaccurate. Bush investigated what they called rampant voter fraud then, but there wasn’t ever clear evidence. Yet ever since, crying “voter fraud” has been a myth perpetuated by the GOP on up to Trump today.

Lastly, a man that Slate dubbed, “The Dark Prince of voter fraud alarmism,” Hans von Spakovsky, was added to the Pence-Kobach commission on Thursday. He’s a Heritage Foundation member who served under Bush as special counsel to the Justice Department’s civil rights division for voting rights. At that time, Brad Schlozman, the Assistant Attorney General fo Civil Rights made the comment that “he wanted to “gerrymander all of those crazy libs right out of the [voting] section.”

“[…] he distinguished himself as an exceptionally zealous believer in the idea that widespread voter fraud exists and must be dealt with urgently through aggressive purging of voter rolls and strict voter ID laws, Slate said of Hans.

Last year, Rolling Stone discussed the latest tool in Republican voter suppression tactics: the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program. Using voter data, the program is supposed to check for voters registered in more than one state. Analysis of a portion of the list of voters revealed that it disproportionately threatened solid Democratic constituencies like the young, black, Hispanic, and Asian-American voters. Big surprise, right? Republicans already have gerrymandering tactics, so it should surprise nobody that the Crosscheck program could easily be another means to favor their own voter turnout.

Kobach can use Crosscheck with all the data received from 50 states now. Interestingly though, as Kansas Secretary of State, Kobach fervently pursued the notion of rampant voter fraud but found only a few cases (9) out of 1.8 million registered voters in the state. The Heritage Foundation to which he belongs keeps a database of voter fraud and reportedly only had 462 total cases in May.

Though Trump and Kobach want you to believe in a widespread problem, it’s fake news.

Trump claimed there were 3-5 million illegal votes in the presidential election he won by default through the Electoral College. There is no evidence for this whatsoever.

It does make you wonder why Trump and Pence are already fundraising for their next elections when we hear daily news of impending impeachment. Maybe the truth of the matter is, they really don’t intend to face a fair election again. We know Russia would certainly oblige should they require any assistance.

As Joy Reid tweeted, “We now have an American right that believes that colluding with a foreign adversary is a legitimate way for a Republican to get elected.”

See copies of the letters from the DOJ and Kris Kobach

Watch this CNN interview with Kobach in which he attempts to prove why he believes there was widespread voter fraud in New Hampshire, even without any data to prove it. Anchor Kate Bolduan isn’t having it:

Featured image: Hans A. von Spakovsky and Kris Kobach via Wikimedia Commons







About Matthew Silvan 283 Articles
Matthew Silvan is a gay man from the American South who has spent years fighting against the scapegoating and demonization imposed on the LGBT community by Republicans and religious hypocrites and zealots. His writing reflects the constant struggle to overcome the inequality and discrimination still rampant in America. He is an advocate for diversity and progress, with a passion for nature and preserving the environment, who also tends to approach things in a lighthearted way despite it all.

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