July 25, 2017 • BLOG ENTRY

Every Vote Should Be Allowed to Count

Jen, Lisa’s daughter, voting!

President Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Voter Integrity is a solution in search of a problem. Last week, Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State and Vice Chair (alongside Vice President Mike Pence) of the Commission, sent a letter to all 50 states demanding that state election officials turn over voter data. The stated purpose of this Commission is to ensure integrity in our elections. There are two major problems with this stated mission.

First, if President Trump truly cared about integrity he would be trying to get to the bottom of Russia’s interference in our election. During his face-to-face meeting he could confront Russia’s President Putin and ask him to explain his government’s involvement. Instead Trump spends time in Poland saying, “Nobody really knows.” Actually, we do know. The United States Intelligence Community has stated with “high confidence” that the Russian government interfered with our election. The devil, as they say, is in the details.

And second, in person voter fraud is a myth. Loyola Law School Professor Justin Levitt found that from 2000–2014 there were a total of 35 credible accusations of voter fraud. During this same fourteen year time period, more than 800 million ballots were cast in general elections, with hundreds of millions more in primary, municipal, special and other elections.

So what’s really going on with this Commission? It is an effort by the President and Vice President at voter suppression. In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act, freeing states to change their laws without prior federal approval. This has led to the passage of Voter ID laws which are thinly veiled attempts to keep women, people of color, seniors, students and working Americans away from the polls.

While 19 states have flat out refused to comply with the letter sent by Mr. Kobach’s Commission, 26 others (including NJ) have said they will turn over only that information deemed public. This information will be stored on a “secure database”. What could possibly go wrong?

The Commission’s demand for information including criminal history, social security number and political affiliation is nothing more than an attempt at voter intimidation. That’s unsettling.

Now we learn that the Department of Justice has sent a letter to 44 states requesting that election officials detail their compliance with a section of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA). Many believe that the DOJ is laying the groundwork to file lawsuits against states that they believe are not kicking enough people off their voter rolls. This is terrifying.

The right to vote is one of the most cherished of civil liberties. It is a right that people have been jailed and beaten trying to obtain. We must never take it for granted, nor can we allow those most vulnerable to intimidation to be kept from the polls.

The integrity of our elections are at risk not due to voter fraud, but because of an international attack on our election. The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy. It must be protected with vigor and without intimidation by the President and his Administration.