Some Americans may recall that after the horrific slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary School when President Obama called for common sense gun safety measures, Republicans were berserk with rage. One of the common cries was that if Americans registered their firearms, the federal government would have their personal information and “who knows what horrors” the federal government would inflict on the good folks and their guns. Suffice it to say that Republicans vehemently oppose the federal government having any more “reach” or information about the citizens and their personal affairs and private information.
Now it is a different story, and it is not because Republicans suddenly believe Americans’ guns should be registered. It is because there is an authoritarian megalomaniac in the White House and an anti-democracy cabal ensconced deep within the Republican Party and racist conservative movement.
Because white trash Trump cannot accept that he lost the popular vote by substantial numbers, he convened a special election commission to ferret out the non-existent massive voter fraud he claims cost him the people’s overwhelming support. Trump’s stated reason for a special commission on election integrity is allegedly “to promote fair and honest federal elections.” Pay no mind that Trump’s Russian masters succeeded at denying Americans a “fair and honest federal election” in 2016; he won.
Trump tapped Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) as his vote-suppression enforcer. Kobach is renowned for lying and claiming massive voter fraud exists going back to 2008, but he has yet to find any in Kansas. So he is going national as a ruse to compile the voting records and personal data from every registered voter in all 50 states for the Trump administration to use in the next election.
One can only imagine what the corrupt and criminal Trump intends to do with voting and personal data of over 230 million eligible American voters. It is noteworthy that Kobach and Trump have both made universally-debunked claims that large numbers of undocumented immigrants voted in the 2016 U.S. elections.
Kobach is so enthusiastic to burrow into nearly a quarter-of-a-billion Americans’ personal and private business that he sent out a letter to all 50 states “requesting voters’ names, addresses, their birthdays, party affiliation, military status, felony convictions, the last four digits of their Social Security numbers, and their voting history dating back ten years, to 2006.” This federal intrusion into states’ business, and Americans’ private lives, is the result of a Trump executive order.
It is noteworthy that no Republican has screamed out “tyranny or executive overreach” into Americans’ private lives and it would be curious if Republicans were not accomplished hypocrites. During President Obama’s 8-year tenure, a common Republican complaint was that his executive orders were criminal and that asking Congress to “consider” legislation requiring firearm registration was patently unconstitutional, tantamount to fascism, and a tyrannical federal governments’ intrusion into gun owners’ private lives and information.
If Kobach and Trump want a comprehensive study of voting fraud in “federal elections,” they could save the nation and all 50 states a fair amount of money if they were serious about their bovine excrement “voter fraud” claims. There is a well-documented and impressive study of all 1.1 billion votes cast in every federal, state, and municipal election for every political office dating back to the 2000 presidential election. That exhaustive study found that there were exactly 31 “credible cases” of voting anomalies across the nation over a 14 year period.
As of yesterday, Friday, there were 24 states that told the Trump they were not, in fact, handing over sensitive voter information to the federal government; especially with an anti-democracy administration with a tyrant in the White House.
For example, Virginia Governor Terry McCauliffe (D) issued a statement saying that he had “no intention” of fulfilling Trump’s demand. Mr. McCauliffe defended Virginia’s “voting fairness” and election integrity, and he rightly said Trump’s commission is “based on the false notion of widespread voter fraud in the last election.” He also stated the obvious that there is likely an ulterior motive to Trump’s election integrity commission.
“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.”
California’s Secretary of State, Alex Padilla (D), also responded to Kobach 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.”
Kentucky’s Secretary of State, Alison Lundergan Grimes (D), said that she does not intend to acquiesce to Trump and Kobach’s “request” for a massive release of voters’ personal data. She said:
“The president created his election commission based on the false notion that ‘voter fraud’ is a widespread issue — it is not. I do not intend to release Kentuckians’ sensitive personal data to the federal government.”
Mississippi’s Republican Secretary of State, Delbert Hosemann, was a tad more abrupt in relating that, like a growing number of state election officials, he definitely will not be turning over any sensitive personal information whatsoever to the panel. Mr. Hoseman promptly told the members of Trump’s “voter fraud commission” to “go jump in the Gulf of Mexico.”
Pennsylvania’s Democratic Governor, Tom Wolf, said he was joining the other state officials and that: “We will not participate in this systematic effort to suppress the vote.”
To demonstrate how intrusive the Trump’s commission if behaving, even a member of the commission said her state was not going to comply. The president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, Connie Lawson (R) said:
“Indiana law doesn’t permit the Secretary of State to provide the personal information requested by Secretary Kobach. Under Indiana public records laws, certain voter info is available to the public, the media and any other person who requested the information for non-commercial purposes. The information publicly available is name, address and congressional district assignment.”
Nellie Gorbea (D) is Rhode Island’s Secretary of State and she was pointed in her criticism of the commission and particularly Kobach as chief vote suppressor. She said Kobach was wholly “unfit to lead the commission, given his record of strict voting laws as well as a ‘recent court fine for failing to produce documents related to a lawsuit over voting laws.’ It is deeply troubling that he has been given oversight of this commission by the president.”
Kobach has been a staunch ALEC-Heritage Foundation advocate for enacting strict voter suppression laws he says are necessary to combat the “massive voter” fraud he has been unable to find. Democracy advocates rightly charge that the voting laws ALEC and Heritage demand are specifically devised “to hinder access to the polls primarily for elderly and minority voters.”
Many officials have questions about “the commission’s discretion obtaining the confidential documents.” Those “questions” are code for they don’t trust the Trump administration whatsoever. One official spoke for the state of Wisconsin and said:
“State statutes permit the [Wisconsin commission] to share confidential information in limited circumstances with law enforcement agencies or agencies of other states. The Presidential Commission does not qualify under either of these categories.”
There is no doubt that this so-called “commission” is not about rooting out and preventing the nearly non-existent vote fraud Trump claims cost him the popular vote victory. The statistics showing there is no such thing as even minor vote fraud are readily available to anyone, and Trump’s and Republicans’ claim that there is any voter fraud has been widely debunked for a decade.
Look, Trump is corrupt, and criminally-corrupt to boot; so there is every expectation his real reason for wanting the private data and voting information for 230 million Americans has nothing to do with “election integrity” and everything to do with voter suppression and intimidation – exactly what one expects from an authoritarian regime.