FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Get Ready for More Voter Suppression

When President Trump created the “Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity” last spring — and put notorious vote suppressor Kris Kobach at the helm — voting rights advocates had decades of good reasons to be concerned. The panel seemed destined to back harsh restrictions on voting rights.

The fraught commission was recently disbanded. But while that provides a momentary sigh of relief, it doesn’t mean that this Trump-Kobach crusade — or voter suppression — has gone away.

For one, there’s still a lot we don’t know about what information the commission collected and what the administration intends to do with it now.

Early reports are troubling. For instance, we now know the commission asked Texas to turn over a list of its voters with Hispanic last names flagged. The threat of officials using this data to fuel large-scale voter roll purges looms large.

Kobach, who’s served as Kansas secretary of state since 2011 and is currently running for governor, says that he remains at the center of ongoing administration efforts to crack down on voting. (Trump claims “illegal votes” cost him the popular vote in 2016, despite the lack of any evidence.)

Disturbingly, both Kobach and Trump have said that the Department of Homeland Security will now take up their cause.

While Homeland Security counters that its priority is election infrastructure, not voter fraud, the agency also says that it’s working with a handful of states to compare voter data with citizenship data. In addition, the Department of Justice (whose leader, Jeff Sessions, is a notorious voting rights foe) made a sweeping voter data request around the same time that the commission was getting going.

Even without a formal voting commission, the threat of eligible voters who’ve done nothing wrong having their rights restricted is still very real. Twenty states are considering bills this year that would restrict the ability to vote.

This includes Kobach’s home state of Kansas as well as New Hampshire, where they’re trying — and not for the first time — to make voting harder for students and anyone else who moves a lot.

We’re also seeing attempts across the country to enact voter ID laws, restrict early and absentee voting, and to aggressively purge voters who skip just one election cycle, a practice currently being challenged at the Supreme Court.

Congress is complicit through its lack of action on voting rights, having gone nearly five years without mending the gaping hole the Supreme Court ripped into the Voting Rights Act. Since 1965, this crown jewel of the civil rights movement has provided important tools to address voting discrimination against racial minorities and others.

It’s still very much needed. But thanks to the Supreme Court, the federal law no longer has the teeth to stop bad state laws before they get started — when it makes the most difference to voters.

As Trump and Kobach and their far-right allies continue to dismantle democracy at the federal, state, and local levels, those who champion voting rights have a big task ahead of them. But there are signs of hope on the horizon.

Perhaps the brightest light shines in Florida, where voters this November will be asked through a ballot measure to give a second chance to fellow Floridians who’ve done their time and paid their debt to society — but who currently can’t vote because of a past felony conviction. If successful, this measure would restore the ability to vote to 1.5 million Floridians.

Trump lost his commission, but he isn’t giving up on voter suppression. And that means we can’t give up on fighting for a democracy where everyone can cast a vote that counts.

Jen Herrick is the senior policy analyst at People For the American Way.

Distributed by OtherWords.org.

More articles by:
July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
Gary Leupp
When Did Russia Become an Adversary?
Uri Avnery
“Not Enough!”
Dave Lindorff
Undermining Trump-Putin Summit Means Promoting War
Manuel E. Yepe
World Trade War Has Begun
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Stomps Britain
Wim Laven
The Best Deals are the Deals that Develop Peace
Kary Love
Can We Learn from Heinrich Himmler’s Daughter? Should We?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Franklin Lamb, Requiescat in Pace
Weekend Edition
July 13, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Brian Cloughley
Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya
Paul Street
Time to Stop Playing “Simon Says” with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos 
Michael Collins
The Affirmative Action Silo
Andrew Levine
Tipping Points
Geoff Dutton
Fair and Balanced Opinion at the New York Times
Ajamu Baraka
Cultural and Ideological Struggle in the US: a Final Comment on Ocasio-Cortez
David Rosen
The New McCarthyism: Is the Electric Chair Next for the Left?
Ken Levy
The McConnell Rule: Nasty, Brutish, and Unconstitutional
George Wuerthner
The Awful Truth About the Hammonds
Robert Fisk
Will Those Killed by NATO 19 Years Ago in Serbia Ever Get Justice?
Robert Hunziker
Three Climatic Monsters with Asteroid Impact
Ramzy Baroud
Europe’s Iron Curtain: The Refugee Crisis is about to Worsen
Nick Pemberton
A Letter For Scarlett JoManDaughter
Marilyn Garson
Netanyahu’s War on Transcendence 
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail