Attacking Voting Rights, Trump’s Biggest Lie Taken from Dictators Handbookby GDN Shared Post February 6, 2018
Attacking voting rights in an attempt to dismantle the validity of the electorate is a play most dictators use to seize power. After Trump’s shocking 2016 electoral victory, he took to Twitter to claim that “millions of people” had voted illegally, costing him the popular vote. He repeated the lie during a meeting with lawmakers in January, leading NBC News to rank it as one of Trump’s “biggest whoppers of 2017.”
“I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and even, those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time). Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures!”
— President Donald Trump in tweets Jan 25, 2017
Numerous studies have shown that voter fraud is virtually nonexistent in the United States. Researchers at the Brennan Center have found that it is rarer than death by lightning. And Trump’s own lawyers contended that “the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake” in a court filing opposing a third party candidate’s recount effort in Michigan.
Attacking voting rights were just the latest instance of Trump perpetuating lies about “rigged” elections and vast voter-fraud conspiracies. Years earlier, for example, he used Twitter to claim that “polls have shown that DEAD PEOPLE voted for President Obama overwhelmingly.”
In May, Trump created the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, naming Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach as its vice chair and de facto chief. Kobach is a longtime lawyer for the Federation for American Immigration Reform – an anti-immigrant hate group with ties to white nationalists. He is a leader in the movement to suppress the votes of minorities and has a track record of aggressively prosecuting voter fraud where none exists.
As Kansas secretary of state, Kobach began removing people from his state’s voter rolls in 2015, making anyone who did not provide proof of citizenship within 90 days ineligible to vote. “It’s no big deal,” he once said, according to The New York Times Magazine. “Nobody’s being disenfranchised.”
Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, a fellow at the anti-LGBT hate group Family Research Council, was also named to the commission. A 2005 report found that Blackwell was at fault for “massive and unprecedented voter irregularities and anomalies in Ohio” during the 2004 election.
In early 2018, the administration dissolved the commission, citing the refusal of several states to produce voter information and the prospect of costly legal battles. In a tweet, Trump placed the blame on “mostly Democrat States” that “refused to hand over data.”
“They fought hard that the Commission not see their records or methods because they know that many people are voting illegally,” he tweeted. “System is rigged, must go to Voter I.D.”
Attacking voting rights failed
As the commission’s vice chairman, Kobach asked states to turn over voter information, including names, addresses, birth dates, the last four digits of Social Security numbers, political affiliation, voting histories and felony convictions. Twenty states refused to provide the data, as others requested time to determine if they could provide it. In December, a U.S. appeals court rejected a watchdog group’s legal challenge to the data request.