First Meeting of Trump’s Voting Commission Makes Clear That Suppression is the Goal

Kira Lerner Political Reporter, Think Progress

Vice President Mike Pence claimed during the first meeting on Wednesday of the White House’s Commission on Election Integrity that the group will go about its work with “no preconceived notions.” Just minutes later, commissioners took turns insisting there is mass fraud across the country that could influence elections.

Kansas Secretary of State and commission co-chair Kris Kobach claimed in his introduction that as many as 18,000 non-citizens could be registered to vote in Kansas, without mentioning the shady math and questionable studies he used to arrive at that number. The Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky insisted that massive fraud is occurring across the country. And even New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Garder, a Democratic commissioner, argued against making voting easier, saying it doesn’t require a massive amount of fraud to influence elections.

One by one, as the commissioners introduced themselves, they made it clear the commission would be laying the groundwork to suppress voters, whether through actions like cross-checking state rolls for duplicates or purging lists of inactive voters.

Kobach outlined the topics he hopes the commission will address, including the accuracy of voter rolls, vote fraud, voting by mail, cybersecurity, and voter intimidation.

President Trump also stopped by the meeting, telling commissioners to keep an “open mind.” But the president suggested that the long list of states refusing to turn over massive amounts of personal voter data to the commission have something to hide.

“One has to wonder what they’re worried about… There’s something. There always is,” Trump said to the commission he created to justify his lie that three to five million people illegally voted last November.

In the first 90 minutes of the meeting, just one commissioner — former Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell — mentioned Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Blackwell’s mention was brief and included in a list of concerns about foreign influence in voting processes.

If voting advocates had any questions about the commissioners’ intentions before Wednesday — though few did — the first meeting solidified that Pence and Kobach are leading an effort to make it harder for eligible Americans to register to vote and cast a ballot.

As the commission met inside the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, advocates protested outside, calling the commission a “scam” set up in order to push for more restrictive voting measures.

“Trump’s, Pence’s and Kobach’s strategy to promote voter restrictions would prevent millions of eligible voters from participating in our democracy. Plain and simple,” Emma Greenman, director of the Voting Rights and Democracy campaign at the Center for Popular Democracy, said in a statement Wednesday. “We need voter protection, not voter suppression.”

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Reposted from ThinkProgress

Kira Lerner is a Political Reporter for ThinkProgress. She previously worked as a reporter covering litigation and policy for the legal newswire Law360. She has also worked as an investigative journalist with the Chicago Innocence Project where she helped develop evidence that led to the exoneration of a wrongfully convicted man from Illinois prison. A native of the Washington, D.C. area, Kira earned her bachelor's degree at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Saving the Nation’s Parks

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities. 

The wildfires ravaging the West Coast not only pose imminent danger to iconic national parks like Crater Lake in Oregon and the Redwoods in California, but threaten the future of all of America’s beloved scenic places.

As climate change fuels the federal government’s need to spend more of National Park Service (NPS) and U.S. Forest Service budgets on wildfire suppression, massive maintenance backlogs and decrepit infrastructure threaten the entire system of national parks and forests.

A long-overdue infusion of funds into the roads, bridges, tunnels, dams and marinas in these treasured spaces would generate jobs and preserve landmark sites for generations to come.

The infrastructure networks in the nation’s parks long have failed to meet modern-day demand. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave parks a D+ rating in its 2017 infrastructure report card, citing chronic underfunding and deferred maintenance.

Just this year, a large portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is owned and managed by the NPS, collapsed due to heavy rains and slope failures. Projects to prevent disasters like this one get pushed further down the road as wildfire management squeezes agency budgets more each year.

Congress recently passed the Great American Outdoors Act,  allocating billions in new funding for the NPS.

But that’s just a first step in a long yet vital process to bring parks and forests to 21st-century standards. America’s big, open spaces cannot afford to suffer additional neglect.

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work