President Donald Trump has been spreading his vastly unproven belief that voter fraud greatly affected the 2016 election since day one. Though he won the presidency, number 45 has remained adamant that the reason he lost the popular vote because of these illegal votes. He vowed to do something to stop it from happening again, and now he has.
In May, the Trump administration created a task force to investigate these claims. But hardened evidence of his beliefs has yet to be presented. Kris Kobach, the Secretary of State for Kansas, has been named to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity and is dead set on taking away voting rights for those he deems to not be worthy. The self-dubbed “A.C.L.U’s worst nightmare” has worked tirelessly in the state of Kansas to pass legislation that makes voter registration a more difficult process. During his time in office, Kobach introduced the Secure and Fair Elections Act. This bill required new voters to provide birth certificate, passport or naturalization papers in order to register to vote. To the untrained eye, this may seem as normal practice but it’s truly anything but.
Some states, including Illinois, have automatic voter registration. This measure ensures that those who apply or renew a driver’s license or state identification card will be automatically registered to vote unless they choose not to be. By adding Kobach’s extra steps, the number of eligible voters significantly decreases. Those who are already registered do not lose their rights, but the necessary extra steps certainly prevent specific groups of people from exercising their right to participate in our elections. Immigrants and low income families would find it especially hard to register under these circumstances. The time and effort it takes to register has an effect as well. Those who cannot, for whatever the reason, provide the documents required by Kobach’s laws would be barred from being able to vote. This is a clear and direct attack on an individual’s right to participate in democracy and thus must be stopped at all costs. Kobach has now been given greater power by the President of the United States, but state-by-state resistance is key to ensure he won’t do any damage.
Most recently, the Trump administration has sent letters to each state asking for very specific information on registered voters. Vice President Mike Pence also chairs on this commission along with Kobach and both are working to prove the president’s unsubstantiated claims that voter fraud is rampant. However, their latest attempts to find this data are a clear attempt at violating privacy laws across the country. Pence and Kobach are asking states to provide them with “registrants’ full names, addresses, dates of birth, political parties, the last four digits of their social security numbers, a list of the elections they voted in since 2006, information on any felony convictions, information on whether they were registered to vote in other states, their military status, and whether they lived overseas.”
Their attempts at obtaining such private information are extremely concerning. And given the president’s past outlandish claims, any results this commission produces should be met with scrutiny. The Republican party has a long history with attempting to suppress voting rights. This Think Progress piece proves that the GOP was particularly successful at this in 2016. It seems as if the Trump administration is now attempting to partake in this as well. This commission will certainly have an effect on the 2020 election unless its attempts at undermining democracy are halted. The best way to fight against this is to continue to badger elected officials to stop any and all unreasonable requests. The resistance against this administration is working. And now there’s yet another worthy battle for us to join.