As much as we would love to believe that there are some settled issues in politics that everyone agrees on, it’s not true. One good example of that is voting rights.
You’d think voting rights would be uncontroversial after a constitutional amendment and a few civil rights acts, but it’s still very much a potent political issue. One one side, there’s the GOP, which generally does not like the idea of anyone voting who falls outside of its core demographic of Fox News boomers and golf club members. On the other side there’s, well, everyone else. The last decade of gerrymandering, voter ID laws, attempts to subvert voter-approved amendments expanding the right to vote, and so on should be proof enough that not everyone thinks we should all be able to vote.
Now that the Democrats are in control of the House, however, Congress is taking its first hard look at voter suppression in years. And Republicans, predictably, don’t seem to be too happy about this.
First came Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s whiny op-ed dismissing the House Dems’ since-passed elections and ethics reform bill. Now, his colleagues in the House GOP are starting to make some noise, too, after two top House Democrats indicated they would look into alleged voter suppression in Georgia, Texas, and Kansas.
According to HuffPost, Republicans on the House Oversight Committee, led by ranking member Jim Jordan, wrote a letter to committee chair Elijah Cummings and civil rights and civil liberties subcommittee chair Jamie Raskin, both Democrats from Maryland, expressing their extreme displeasure with this turn of events:
“We have serious concerns that your letters appear to be an attempt to insert the Committee into particular state election proceedings, for which we do not see a legitimate legislative purpose,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the ranking member on the committee, wrote in a letter signed by three other Republicans. “By seeking voluminous records relating to election administration of sovereign states, your investigation offends state-federal comity. In fact, the respective states are already working to resolve any issues with their election administration.”
The “respective states,” of course, include Georgia, whose then-secretary of state Brian Kemp is now governor, and who accused Democrats just days before the election—with no evidence whatsoever—of hacking Georgia’s voter registration system. (This is apart from the litany of other voter suppression tactics his office used last year. Forgive me if I’m not convinced that he’s going to get to the bottom of this.)
What makes Jordan’s outcry of “states’ rights” especially ironic is that the Trump administration’s ill-fated voter fraud commission also sought “voluminous records relating to election administration of sovereign states,” in the form of voter data for every single state in the country. The key difference, for those keeping score at home, is that voter fraud is a fake problem and voter suppression is a real one.
McClatchy reported on Tuesday that Jordan had also gone out of his way to send letters to election officials in all three states, as part of a rather blatant attempt to undermine the Oversight committee probe. While Texas officials said they wouldn’t comply with Cummings’ request, Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab has said that his office has already complied.