Well, 'Voting' Was Fun While It Lasted!
Just a friendly reminder, YOU.
So now that he's got that fake Russia story all put to bed, Donald Trump is finally ready to take on the REAL scandal of the 2016 election: all those illegal aliens who voted for Hillary Clinton and fraudulently denied him a popular vote landslide to go along with his incredible record-setting electoral landslide. (After which lots of illegals snuck off to Washington on January 20 to kidnap people on their way to the Mall for Trump's inauguration.) Yes, Thursday Trump signed an executive order establishing a bipartisan commission to investigate voter fraud and intimidation, and to recommend new ways of improving the latter. And what a cast of excellent voting experts it'll have:
[Administration] officials say Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach will be announced as Chair and Vice Chair of the "Presidential Commission on Election Integrity" in a press release today [...]
The commission, which will include Republicans and Democrats, will be tasked with studying "vulnerabilities" in U.S. voting systems and potential effects on "improper voting, fraudulent voter registrations and fraudulent voting," according to one official with knowledge of the announcement.
This wasn't one of those big public EO signings; it was instead one of those closed-door things we only know happened because it was announced at the daily press briefing.
The exact membership of the commission hasn't yet been determined, but the really important thing is that it'll go forward under the loving attentions of two guys who love them some voter suppression. Most decent people already loathe Mike Pence for his terrible anti-gay law or his anti-abortion policies, which are excellent reasons to loathe him, but don't forget he's also dabbled in vote suppression, too: In 2016 Indiana state police shut down the offices of the Indiana Voter Registration Project, seizing their records, shutting down their registration drive, and seizing thousands of voter registrations, all in the name of fighting voter fraud. But they did find ten registration forms suspected of being fraudulent, so the operation was clearly worth it.
Then there's vice chair Kris Kobach, who when he's not co-chairing presidential commissions, attending rightwing conferences on voter fraud, or going to other states and writing unconstitutional "papers please" immigration laws, can sometimes be found in Kansas, where he occasionally serves as Secretary of State. Or as the job came to be known under Kobach's tenure, "the defendant in another voting rights case." Every American should know the name of Kris Kobach, and every American should say it with the sort of venomous distaste with which one says "Nixon," "Lester Maddox," or "canned clams." The guy has made a living from one simple premise: Voting should be very difficult, lest too many of the wrong people (Democrats) vote. Along with gerrymandering, suppressing the Democratic vote is a vital part of Republican strategy to remain in power despite demographic changes that should favor Democrats. And nobody's a bigger name in voter suppression than Kris Kobach, although he of course sees himself as an expert on preventing "voter fraud." If you don't already recoil at the name, go readthis New Yorker profile on the man and his career, then spend some quality time petting a friendly dog or cat to help you feel human again. Be glad and rejoice, too, that nothing came of the rumors Kobach might be nominated to head the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the nation's immigration system.
Kobach is also the genius who came up with the horribly flawed "Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program," a system adopted by many Republican secretaries of state to help them weed out potential voting fraudsters -- if by fraudsters you mean people who are more likely to be black, Latino, young, poor, in college, or in other demographic groups likely to vote Democratic. Rolling Stone wrote a chilling piece about Crosscheck last summer before the election, one of those investigative pieces you should keep bookmarked to throw at anyone who starts yammering about voter fraud. Crosscheck is supposed to identify and weed out voters registered in two places, but is just as likely to find two separate people who have the same first and last names, and sometimes the same birth date, but are very definitely not the same human being:
We found that one-fourth of the names on the list actually lacked a middle-name match. The system can also mistakenly identify fathers and sons as the same voter, ignoring designations of Jr. and Sr. A whole lot of people named “James Brown” are suspected of voting or registering twice, 357 of them in Georgia alone. But according to Crosscheck, James Willie Brown is supposed to be the same voter as James Arthur Brown. James Clifford Brown is allegedly the same voter as James Lynn Brown.
The checks for middle names, birth dates, and last four digits of Social Security numbers may or may not actually be followed before someone’s purged from the rolls. Also, here's a heck of a surprise: members of minority groups
are overrepresented in 85 of 100 of the most common last names. If your name is Washington, there’s an 89 percent chance you’re African-American. If your last name is Hernandez, there’s a 94 percent chance you’re Hispanic. If your name is Kim, there’s a 95 percent chance you’re Asian.
Hooray, more potential false positives! Once the system identifies a possible double-registered voter, states send out a postcard, and the voter has to mail it back to the secretary of state’s office. If they don’t return the postcard, the process of kicking them off the voter rolls starts. Not surprisingly, since younger and poorer people are more likely to rent than own, and generally less likely to return the cards, the return rate among homeowning Republicans is a lot higher, so the system results in more likely Democratic voters being removed from voter rolls. We've told you in previous pieces on Kobach to go read the whole infuriating Rolling Stone piece, and that mandatory reading assignment stands.
Thursday's executive order fulfills the very important promise Trump made, after the election, to investigate ALL THE VOTER FRAUD, including all those terrible people who are registered to vote in two states, like several members of Trump's family and staff. And also dead people, who tend to be on voter rolls because few people make "calling the county registrar" part of their bereavement to-do list. We'll assume someone explained to him that being registered in two places isn't a criminal offense, although actually voting in both is -- and is also very rare, as is voting by dead people outside of rightwing political cartoons, where it truly is at epidemic proportions.
The commission is also allegedly supposed to attract Democratic support by offering lip service to the idea that voter suppression exists, at least before it recommends a whole bunch of wonderful NEW measures to make voting more difficult. With these Trump people, it's always something.
Also, for some fascinating extra-credit reading, we recommend this piece at FiveThirtyEight, which traces how one statistically flawed study became the basis for Republicans' massive freakout over supposed voter fraud. It's a fascinating history of a real study whose author originally intended to explain why some naturalized citizens don't vote, but then tried to nail down how many noncitizens may cast illegal ballots. Along the way, a simple error in data analysis resulted in invalid conclusions which morphed into a political talking point for Wingnut America. Good stuff, and it'll probably leave you saying "Huh! That's interesting!" more than grinding your teeth.
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