Trumpence’s ‘Election Integrity’ Panel Put Out of its Misery
Voting panel conceived out of blind hatred for people of color. A boondoggle to New Hampshire sealed its fate.
This commission started as a tragedy and ended as a farce.
–Michael Waldman, president, Brennan Center for Justice
Donald Trump last week officially dissolved his “Election Integrity Commission” after it could not, as expected, find a single instance of voter fraud. In fact, the only fraud found in its wake was the mission of the panel itself. It seems “election integrity” was way down its list of priorities, if it existed at all. Here was its real agenda:
- The panel was predicated on the lie that Trump would have won the popular vote but for “millions of people who voted illegally.” In the end, it was all about Trump.
- Spouting disinformation such as rampant voter fraud in this country could conceivably create a positive political environment to accomplish two Republican legislative goals: amending the federal voter registration law (“Motor Voter Law”) to require proof of citizenship and other harsh requirements; and conducting mass purges of statewide voter rolls.
- The Trump campaign enabling Russian meddling in our 2016 election is a warning shot. Sowing the seeds of doubt in the integrity of our elections (and thus our democracy) can only benefit an authoritarian such as Trump. He said it: “I alone can fix it.”
An Outrageous Request
Kris Kobach found out the hard way that he isn’t in Kansas anymore.
While Kansas’s secretary of state, the virulently anti-immigrant Kobach (he’s called “psych-kobach” there) was able to have his way through a new Kansas law requiring proof of citizenship when registering to vote. The law also put a stop to voter registration drives.
This paperwork obligation would have a chilling effect on young people and minority communities, both Democratic leaners, resulting in Kansas suspending one in seven voter registrations. Fortunately, it’s tied up in the courts right now, along with several other states’ voter suppression measures.
Kobach’s office enabled him to stalk Kansas’s voter registration records. When Kobach was named co-chair of the commission (Mike Pence is the other), he routinely asked every state to send to the panel their voter registration records. The response was a bi-partisan “NO.”
Even dark red Mississippi’s Republican secretary of state publicly told Kobach to “go jump in the Gulf of Mexico.” The commission faced 15 lawsuits and actually lost one to the state of Maine before its demise.
Kobach’s “Gotcha” Moment in New Hampshire Fails Miserably
Mike Pence and Kris Kobach thought they were onto something when there were stirrings within GOP circles that there were over 5,000 fraudulent votes in New Hampshire during the 2016 election. They probably understood that Trump’s assertion that voters were bused in from Massachusetts was nothing more than “alternative facts.” But there was a glimmer, however faint, of actual voter fraud.
The stakes turned out to be high. Not only did candidate Trump lose New Hampshire by a mere two percentage points. The Senate race between Republican incumbent Kelly Ayotte and Democrat Maggie Hassan broke for Hassan by…well, see for yourself in the image above. It was damn close.
Raw voter registration data revealed that polling places in mainly New Hampshire college towns were registering to vote non-residents. Kobach wrote about it in Breitbart News and then he and his motley crew ventured up to Manchester in mid-September to hold hearings on this explosive allegation.
Well, stop the high-fiving for a moment: there’s nothing like the nuisance of a state law to get in the way of a career achievement.
New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner carefully explained to the panel that a person can lawfully vote in New Hampshire while holding a driver’s license or vehicle registration from another state. They just have to be domiciled in the state for most of their time…like, say, college students.
But ho ho, shot back Kobach. How about 5,300 voters who had failed to get New Hampshire drivers licenses within the lawful 60 days after moving to New Hampshire?
Gardner: Our state Supreme Court made a clear distinction between residency and domicile. It is not necessary for the 5,300 voters in question to become residents for their votes to be valid. A voter can prove domicile by:
providing a form issued by a New Hampshire college or university…a monthly bill, a medical bill, pay stubs showing current address or postmarked mail within the last thirty days.
No voter fraud. And guess who paid for that junket.