OK folks, as if I haven't stressed this enough over the last almost nine years, now is way past the time to be worrying about Trump's point man on national voter suppression efforts, our old friend Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has asked the state of Connecticut to provide President Donald Trump’s new voter commission with the names, birthdates and Social Security information for that state’s voters going back to 2006.
Kobach, a former chairman of the Kansas Republican Party and a candidate for Kansas governor in 2018, serves as vice chairman of Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.
In a June 28 letter, Kobach asked the Connecticut secretary of state’s office to provide it with all publicly available voter roll data, including the full names of all registered voters along with their addresses, dates of birth, the last four digits of their Social Security numbers, voting history and other personal information.
Kobach’s office did not immediately answer a question about how many states received similar letters. Kobach previously promised that the commission would undertake the most comprehensive study of voter fraud to date.
Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill, a Democrat, said in a statement that her office plans to share “publicly-available information with the Kobach Commission while ensuring that the privacy of voters is honored by withholding protected data.”
“In the same spirit of transparency, we will request that the Commission share any memos, meeting minutes or additional information as state officials have not been told precisely what the Commission is looking for,” she said. “This lack of openness is all the more concerning, considering that the Vice Chair of the Commission, Kris Kobach, has a lengthy record of illegally disenfranchising eligible voters in Kansas.”
Kobach has championed some of the strictest voting laws in the country during his tenure as secretary of state. Those laws have spurred multiple lawsuits.
Last week, a federal judge fined him $1,000 for making “patently misleading representations” about documents he took to a November meeting with Trump that relate to federal voting law as part of an ongoing voting rights case.
“The courts have repudiated his methods on multiple occasions but often after the damage has been done to voters,” Merrill said. “Given Secretary Kobach’s history we find it very difficult to have confidence in the work of this Commission.”
Vanita Gupta, the former head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s office of Civil Rights, said on Twitter that the letter proves that Kobach and Vice President Mike Pence, who serves as the commission’s chairman, “are laying the groundwork for voter suppression, plain & simple.”
Kobach’s office denied a request by The Kansas City Star for documents related to the commission last week on the grounds that his office has no documents pertaining to the commission.
Vanita Gupta is right, and Connecticut is not the only state who got this letter demanding voter information for the last ten years. All 50 states have been asked to do this. At least three have said no, including to her considerable credit, Kentucky's Secretary of State, Alison Lundergan Grimes.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) said in a statement that he has “no intention” of fulfilling the request, defending the fairness of his state's elections. He also blasted the commission in his statement, saying it was based on the "false notion" of widespread voter fraud in the November presidential election.
“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,” McAuliffe stated.
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D) also responded to the request, saying “I will not provide sensitive voter information to a commission that has already inaccurately passed judgment that millions of Californians voted illegally” in the last election.
“California’s participation would only serve to legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud made by the President, Vice President, and [Kansas Secretary of State Kris] Kobach,” Padilla stated.
Kobach is the vice chairman of the voter fraud panel who asked each state for its voter rolls.
Later in the evening, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) said she too wouldn't offer up the information requested by the panel.
"The president created his election commission based on the false notion that "voter fraud" is a widespread issue – it is not," Grimes said in a statement Thursday.
"Indeed, despite bipartisan objections and a lack of authority, the President has repeatedly spread the lie that three to five million illegal votes were cast in the last election," her statement continued. "Kentucky will not aid a commission that is at best a waste of taxpayer money and at worst an attempt to legitimize voter suppression efforts across the country."
And the only reason you would force states to do this is if your "solution" to the issue of "voter fraud" was a "national voter integrity database" ahead of national voter ID legislation that would standardize voting and registration procedures across the country for federal elections.
Keep in mind too that Trump would then have a database of every voter in the country and how they voted for the last ten years. You can imagine the awesome levels of malfeasance that could occur in the annals of targeting voter disenfranchisement with that type of information.
You can also imagine that there would be no independent oversight of the commission and the conclusions they would draw, which of course would be that America desperately needs "voter registration and identification reform legislation" ahead of 2020...or maybe ahead of 2018.
This is where we lose our two-party system, guys, right here. Republicans vote, Democrats are mysteriously purged from the rolls, just enough to give Republicans key wins in key locations time and time again. You don't have to touch a single voting machine in the country to control the outcome if you already know who can and cannot vote in each precinct in America.
Even if you don't believe that Trump got help from this from the Russians the first time around, you'd better believe Kobach is going to push for this to happen by 2020. Keep a really close eye on this one guys, because your democracy is going to go poof before you know it.