Donald Trump’s appointment of an “election integrity” commission including Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach raised red flags from the start and its activities have already spurred more concerns that it’s another vote suppression ploy.
Kobach has led efforts to suppress votes in Kansas and has participated in highly flawed efforts to investigate voter rolls nationally. He’s a pal of Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin.
Now he’s sent a letter to all 50 states in advance of the first meeting.
The information requested includes the names, addresses, birthdates, political party v(if recorded), last four digits of the voter’s Social Security Number and which elections the voter has participated in since 2006, for every registered voter in the country.
Kobach, who is also Kansas’ Republican secretary of state, did not say how the commission plans to use the data other than to help it “fully analyze vulnerabilities and issues related to voter registration and voting.”
If history repeats, he’ll drum up some bogus matching lists, heavily flawed because, for example, the fact that five or six people with the same name, say Jose Cruz or Roosevelt Washington to give you the idea of what Kobach hopes to find, exist in several states isn’t evidence of voter fraud.
Vanita Gupta, former head of the Justice Department Civil Rights Division, boiled it down to this on Twitter:
The letter @KrisKobach1787 is sending to states confirms: Pence and Kobach are laying the groundwork for voter suppression, plain & simple.
The Kentucky secretary of state has told Kobach to stuff it.
I’ve asked Mark Martin’s office if it intends to comply with Kobach’s request. UPDATE: His spokesman, Chris Powell, says Arkansas has not received the letter.
I also sent an e-mail to former Democratic state Rep. David Dunn, now a lobbyist at the Arkansas Capitol, for his response to this. He was appointed to this panel thanks to
Talking Points Memo, in outlining how dubious this effort is, notes:
Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill (D), who released the copy of Kobach’s letter sent to her, issued a statement saying that, while they’ll be turning over the data, they’ll also be requesting from Kobach’s commission “any memos, meeting minutes or additional information as state officials have not been told precisely what the Commission is looking for.”
“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,” Merrill said. “The courts have repudiated his methods on multiple occasions but often after the damage has been done to voters. Given Secretary Kobach’s history we find it very difficult to have confidence in the work of this Commission.”
David Dunn, where are you?
The League of Women Voters’ Chris Carson had this to
“There is no justification for this giant fishing expedition. The Commission itself is a distraction from the real issue of voter suppression, and that efforts to ‘investigate voter fraud’ threaten our most fundamental voting rights.
“This most recent move by Mr. Kobach is an indicator that the so-called Election ‘Integrity’ Commission is not interested in facts, but false accusations and dangerous policy recommendations.
“State laws govern the release of voter registration information, and, at a minimum, election officials must follow those laws before releasing data. “
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said: “I have no intention of honoring this request.” California,
FURTHER UPDATE: Kobach says Kobach-led Kansas won’t supply the Social Security numbers he’s requested.
Mother Jones explains how this is a building block for more Republican vote suppression.
UPDATE: In late afternoon, Ari Berman says 18 states have refused to participate: CA, CT, IN, KY, MA, MN, NC, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, RI, TN, UT, VA, VT, WA
Good overview here including clueless comment from David Dunn. Who knew?
Even Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said on national TV that this is not a good idea