Bad news for people who like voting rights: President Trump will reportedly sign an executive order today creating a “Presidential Commission on Election Integrity,” and he’s staffing the commission with some of the most infamous anti-voting officials in the country.
ABC News, which broke the story, reported that Vice President Mike Pence is expected to chair the commission, which will look into “improper voting, fraudulent voter registrations and fraudulent voting.”
Trump has repeated unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in the election that he won. Earlier this year, he tweeted his intent to investigate voter fraud. The commission seems to be his attempt to make good on that promise.
According to ABC News, the commission will include both Democratic and Republican members and will not only investigate the 2016 election, but also “systemic issues that have been raised over many years in terms of the integrity of the elections.”
When Republican politicians with a history of bogus claims about voter fraud start paying even more attention to the subject, it’s bad news. Though there’s virtually no evidence that any of these things exist in less than minuscule numbers, they have all been used by Republicans to curb voting rights in the past.
But it’s the vice-chair of this new commission which really shows how grim it could get: Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
Kobach is notorious for pushing some of the most restrictive voting laws in America. Kansas’s voter ID laws are particularly strict, according to a study published on the National Conference of State Legislators website, and Kobach has a history of legal battles over the anti-voting laws he’s championed. (He’s also friendly with white nationalists.)
“The conservative Republican argues the tough laws on voting eligibility are needed to protect elections against fraud,” the Associated Press explained in the introduction to a timeline of these legal battles. “But critics contend such restrictions are unnecessary and suppress voter turnout – particularly among the young and minority voters.”
The ACLU has filed a lawsuit against Kobach’s office over voting. A judge ordered Kobach to turn over a document he brought to a meeting he held with Trump to the ACLU. His office has appealed the order unsuccessfully.
In that meeting, held before Trump took office, Kobach was photographed holding a document titled “DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY KOBACH STRATEGIC PLAN FOR THE FIRST 365 DAYS.” (Kobach was in the running to become the Secretary of Homeland Security—another job he would have been a nightmare in.) Buried in the document was a mention of voter rolls.
This section is partly obscured by Kobach’s arm, but seems like it could refer to the “National Voter” ... Registration Act, maybe? Decide for yourself:
Kobach wound up getting passed over for the Homeland Security gig, but whatever he does in his new job for Trump could be just as dangerous.