Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Please Support CounterPunch’s Annual Fund Drive
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We only ask you once a year, but when we ask we mean it. So, please, help as much as you can. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Time for a Citizens’ Commission to Defend Our Right to Vote

Donald Trump’s commission on “election integrity” is meeting sensible resistance.

The commission issued letters calling on states to provide it with extensive personal information on all voters, including names, addresses, birthdates, party affiliation, the last four digits Social Security numbers, military status and criminal records. This data collection would be targeted by every cyber thief in the world.

At least 20 states have already indicated that they would not comply completely, including California, New York, Texas and more.

Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, a Republican, said his reply would be: “They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico, and Mississippi is a great state to launch from.” Hosemann said, “Mississippi residents should celebrate Independence Day and our state’s right to protect the privacy of our citizens by conducting our own electoral processes.”

The president’s commission is founded on a lie and perpetuates a fraud. The lie was Trump’s whopper that he would have won the popular vote if 3million to 5 million voters hadn’t voted fraudulently. There is no, literally no, evidence that anyone of any political stripe can find to back up that lie. In fact, fraudulent voting in the United States is rare, isolated and insignificant.

The commission is perpetuating a fraud because it wants to use fears about voter fraud to suppress voting — to make it harder to register and vote, particularly for working and poor people. The commission is run by its vice-chair, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. He is notorious for his crusade to push voter suppression laws, as well as to feed fears about illegal immigration.

The commission is set up to push the new Jim Crow voting laws, which require picture ID’s, curtail early voting, cut back on voting booths, permit no Sunday voting, repeal automatic or motor-voter registration and more. Its posturing about voter fraud is the fraud. The real aim is to make it harder to vote, with impediments that disproportionately impact people of color.

In reality, voter suppression had a real and direct impact on the 2016 election — a far greater impact than the handful of isolated incorrect or “fraudulent” votes cast, or the hacking allegedly masterminded by Vladimir Putin. The 2016 election was the first without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act. Fourteen states — including swing states like Wisconsin, Ohio and North Carolina — had new voter restrictions in place.

In Wisconsin, Trump won by 27,000 votes, but an unknown and likely quite large number of eligible voters lacked the newly required forms of ID. (A federal judge ruling in a lawsuit against the state’s voter ID law in 2014 put the number at 300,000.) Turnout in 2016 was the lowest in decades, particularly in Milwaukee, home of 70 percent of the state’s African-Americans. In North Carolina, even after a federal court overturned the state’s anti-voter measures for targeting African-Americans “with almost surgical precision,” Republican officials cut back hours and closed polling places. Early black voting turnout plummeted, according to the Nation, as the 40 counties with the largest African-American populations were allocated 158 fewer polling places.

Voter suppression works. And so does voter empowerment. As the Nation also reported, Oregon enacted automatic voter registration, which added 250,000 new voters to the rolls. An impressive 79 percent of registered voters turned out in 2016.

We do not need a commission to investigate Donald Trump’s fantastical excuse for losing the popular vote. We need a commission to investigate the reality of voter suppression — and how to make voting easier, not harder. That agenda would include automatic voter registration, longer early voting, an election day holiday, more polling places, hand-counted ballots to avoid cyber threats and more.

Both Trump and the Republican Congress are more interested in raising barriers to voting than in lowering them. Democrats would be well advised to create their own independent commission, staffed with the best experts in the nation, to lay out a serious plan to end voter suppression and empower people to vote. Voting is the essential right in a democracy. It needs to be protected, not suppressed.

More articles by:

Jesse Jackson is the founder of Rainbow/PUSH.

October 18, 2018
Erik Molvar
The Ten Big Lies of Traditional Western Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lockheed and Loaded: How the Maker of Junk Fighters Like the F-22 and F-35 Came to Have Full-Spectrum Dominance Over the Defense Industry
Lawrence Davidson
Israel’s “Psychological Obstacles to Peace”
Brian Platt – Brynn Roth
Black-Eyed Kids and Other Nightmares From the Suburbs
John W. Whitehead
You Want to Make America Great Again? Start by Making America Free Again
Zhivko Illeieff
Why Can’t the Democrats Reach the Millennials?
Steve Kelly
Quiet, Please! The Latest Threat to the Big Wild
Manuel García, Jr.
The Inner Dimensions of Socialist Revolution
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ Over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Adam Parsons
A Global People’s Bailout for the Coming Crash
Binoy Kampmark
The Tyranny of Fashion: Shredding Banksy
Dean Baker
How Big is Big? Trump, the NYT and Foreign Aid
Vern Loomis
The Boofing of America
October 17, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
When Saudi Arabia’s Credibility is Damaged, So is America’s
John Steppling
Before the Law
Frank Stricker
Wages Rising? 
James McEnteer
Larry Summers Trips Out
Muhammad Othman
What You Can Do About the Saudi Atrocities in Yemen
Binoy Kampmark
Agents of Chaos: Trump, the Federal Reserve and Andrew Jackson
David N. Smith
George Orwell’s Message in a Bottle
Karen J. Greenberg
Justice Derailed: From Gitmo to Kavanaugh
John Feffer
Why is the Radical Right Still Winning?
Dan Corjescu
Green Tsunami in Bavaria?
Rohullah Naderi
Why Afghan Girls Are Out of School?
George Ochenski
You Have to Give Respect to Get Any, Mr. Trump
Cesar Chelala
Is China Winning the War for Africa?
Mel Gurtov
Getting Away with Murder
W. T. Whitney
Colombian Lawyer Diego Martinez Needs Solidarity Now
Dean Baker
Nothing to Brag About: Scott Walker’s Economic Record in Wisconsin:
October 16, 2018
Gregory Elich
Diplomatic Deadlock: Can U.S.-North Korea Diplomacy Survive Maximum Pressure?
Rob Seimetz
Talking About Death While In Decadence
Kent Paterson
Fifty Years of Mexican October
Robert Fantina
Trump, Iran and Sanctions
Greg Macdougall
Indigenous Suicide in Canada
Kenneth Surin
On Reading the Diaries of Tony Benn, Britain’s Greatest Labour Politician
Andrew Bacevich
Unsolicited Advice for an Undeclared Presidential Candidate: a Letter to Elizabeth Warren
Thomas Knapp
Facebook Meddles in the 2018 Midterm Elections
Muhammad Othman
Khashoggi and Demetracopoulos
Gerry Brown
Lies, Damn Lies & Statistics: How the US Weaponizes Them to Accuse  China of Debt Trap Diplomacy
Christian Ingo Lenz Dunker – Peter Lehman
The Brazilian Presidential Elections and “The Rules of The Game”
Robert Fisk
What a Forgotten Shipwreck in the Irish Sea Can Tell Us About Brexit
Martin Billheimer
Here Cochise Everywhere
David Swanson
Humanitarian Bombs
Dean Baker
The Federal Reserve is Not a Church
October 15, 2018
Rob Urie
Climate Crisis is Upon Us
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail