Twitter Town Hall Will Watchdog “Voter Integrity” Commission
Twitter Town Hall Will Watchdog "Voter Integrity" Commission
Voting Rights Advocates Worry That Trump Panel Focusing on Suppressing Votes
As President Trump’s “election integrity” commission meets by livestream on Wednesday, Common Cause will host a Twitter town hall with analysis and commentary on the commission from some of the nation’s leading election law experts.
The commission session, its first, and the town hall begin at 11 a.m. You can access the commission’s livestream here. Follow the Twitter town hall by watching Common Cause’s Twitter account (@CommonCause) and following the #RespectMyVote hashtag.
Town Hall participants include Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn, Kristen Clark, president of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; Wendy Weiser, director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice; Vanita Gupta, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; and Dale Ho, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Voting Rights Project. The online discussion will be moderated by Allegra Chapman, Common Cause’s director of voting and elections.
The presidential commission’s initial meeting comes amid growing evidence that the fix is in for it to recommend new laws that would make voting more difficult for millions of Americans.
The Huffington Post and the Wichita Eagle reported over the weekend that just one day after Trump’s election, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, now vice chairman of the integrity commission and a candidate for governor of Kansas, was drafting legislation to allow states to demand that prospective voters produce written proof of their U.S. citizenship before adding them to the voter rolls.
“I have already started regarding amendments to the NVRA [National Voter Registration Act] to make clear that proof of citizenship requirements are permitted (based on my ongoing litigation with the ACLU over this), as well as legislation to stop the dozen states that are providing instate tuition to illegal aliens in violation of (federal law),” Kobach wrote in an email to Gene Hamilton, who was part of Trump’s transition team.
Hamilton replied the next morning that Kobach should get the drafts together “sooner rather than later.”
The electronic correspondence was disclosed as part of a lawsuit brought against Kobach by the American Civil Liberties Union. A complaint that Kobach violated legal ethics by responding too slowly to court orders issued as part of that case is pending before the Kansas Supreme Court.
Kobach is arguably the nation’s most aggressive advocate for tighter restrictions on voting rights. He spearheaded the passage of a Kansas law in 2011 that required prospective new voters to produce proof of citizenship before being registered; a federal court later invalidated that law. He also is an outspoken advocate for strict voter identification requirements.
In addition to suing Kobach, the ACLU is among several organizations – including Common Cause – with pending legal challenges against the integrity commission. A suit filed last week by Common Cause asks a federal court to shut down commission efforts to obtain personal information about millions of voters and order the panel to return the data it has already collected to state officials.
Filed under the federal Privacy Act, the Common Cause suit is the only one in the series that could permanently stop the commission’s data collection and block its apparent plan to create a national voter database that could be used to attack the voting rights of tens of thousands of voters.
The commission suspended its data collection effort last week as at least 45 states declined to provide some or all of the voter information it requested in a Kobach-authored letter to state officials.
Trump created the commission after claiming for months that up to five million votes in last year’s election were cast illegally. There is no evidence to support that claim however, and a series of studies – led by Democrats, Republicans and independent academic researchers – have concluded that voter impersonation fraud in U.S. elections is all but nonexistent.