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

Get to Know AFL-CIO's Affiliates: National Association of Letter Carriers

From the AFL-CIO

Next up in our series that takes a deeper look at each of our affiliates is the National Association of Letter Carriers.

Name of Union: National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC)

Mission: To unite fraternally all city letter carriers employed by the U.S. Postal Service for their mutual benefit; to obtain and secure rights as employees of the USPS and to strive at all times to promote the safety and the welfare of every member; to strive for the constant improvement of the Postal Service; and for other purposes. NALC is a single-craft union and is the sole collective-bargaining agent for city letter carriers.

Current Leadership of Union: Fredric V. Rolando serves as president of NALC, after being sworn in as the union's 18th president in 2009. Rolando began his career as a letter carrier in 1978 in South Miami before moving to Sarasota in 1984. He was elected president of Branch 2148 in 1988 and served in that role until 1999. In the ensuing years, he worked in various roles for NALC before winning his election as a national officer in 2002, when he was elected director of city delivery. In 2006, he won election as executive vice president. Rolando was re-elected as NALC president in 2010, 2014 and 2018.

Brian Renfroe serves as executive vice president, Lew Drass as vice president, Nicole Rhine as secretary-treasurer, Paul Barner as assistant secretary-treasurer, Christopher Jackson as director of city delivery, Manuel L. Peralta Jr. as director of safety and health, Dan Toth as director of retired members, Stephanie Stewart as director of the Health Benefit Plan and James W. “Jim” Yates as director of life insurance.

Number of Members: 291,000 active and retired letter carriers.

Members Work As: City letter carriers.

Industries Represented: The United States Postal Service.

History: In 1794, the first letter carriers were appointed by Congress as the implementation of the new U.S. Constitution was being put into effect. By the time of the Civil War, free delivery of city mail was established and letter carriers successfully concluded a campaign for the eight-hour workday in 1888. The next year, letter carriers came together in Milwaukee and the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed.

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