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:
Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations
Ted Rall
Why Christine Ford vs. Brett Kavanaugh is a Train Wreck You Can’t Look Away From
Lauren Regan
The Day the Valves Turned: Defending the Pipeline Protesters
Ralph Nader
Questions, Questions Where are the Answers?
Binoy Kampmark
Deplatforming Germaine Greer
Raouf Halaby
It Should Not Be A He Said She Said Verdict
Justin Anderson
Don’t Count the Left Out Just Yet
Robert Koehler
The Accusation That Wouldn’t Go Away
Jim Hightower
Amazon is Making Workers Tweet About How Great It is to Work There
Robby Sherwin
Rabbi, Rabbi, Where For Art Thou Rabbi?
Vern Loomis
Has Something Evil This Way Come?
Steve Baggarly
Disarm Trident Walk Ends in Georgia
Graham Peebles
Priorities of the Time: Peace
Michael Doliner
The Department of Demonization
September 20, 2018
Michael Hudson
Wasting the Lehman Crisis: What Was Not Saved Was the Economy
John Pilger
Hold the Front Page, the Reporters are Missing
Kenn Orphan
The Power of Language in the Anthropocene
Paul Cox – Stan Cox
Puerto Rico’s Unnatural Disaster Rolls on Into Year Two
Rajan Menon
Yemen’s Descent Into Hell: a Saudi-American War of Terror
Russell Mokhiber
Nick Brana Says Dems Will Again Deny Sanders Presidential Nomination
Nicholas Levis
Three Lessons of Occupy Wall Street, With a Fair Dose of Memory
Steve Martinot
The Constitutionality of Homeless Encampments
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail