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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Trump commission asking for state voter information, Louisiana still reviewing

Posted By on Thu, Jun 29, 2017 at 6:10 PM

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Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler’s office received a letter June 28 from President Donald Trump’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, asking for voter names, addresses, party affiliation, dates of birth, the last four digits of social security numbers, and voter history since 2006. The letter from commission Vice Chair Kris Kobach was sent to all 50 states to identify policies that “enhance or undermine the American people’s confidence in the integrity of federal election processes.” The information will be made publicly available.

Meg Casper Sunstrom, Press Secretary for Louisiana's Secretary of State, told Gambit June 29 that the office had not yet reviewed the letter with staff and attorneys.

Civil rights advocates warned that gathering mass voter information could lead to policies that disenfranchise voters. Vanita Gupta, CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and former head of the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division, said on Twitter that Kobach and Vice President Mike Pence, who chairs the commission, are "laying the groundwork for voter suppression, plain & simple."
The commission is aimed at finding and combatting voter fraud, though multiple investigations and reports have found it virtually nonexistent, at least on the kind of scale alleged by Trump, who said that millions of people had illegally voted in the 2016 election.

"The verdict is in from every corner that voter fraud is sufficiently rare that it simply could not and does not happen at the rate even approaching that which would be required to 'rig' an election," according to the Brennan Center for Justice, the NYU School of Law's nonpartisan law and policy institute. "Electoral integrity is key to our democracy, and politicians who genuinely care about protecting our elections should focus not on phantom fraud concerns, but on those abuses that actually threaten election security."

But The White House has moved quickly to find and uproot fraud, with Trump signing an executive order May 11 to establish the advisory commission.

Commission vice-chair Kobach, as Kansas Secretary of State, had extrapolated similar figures — pulled from a sample that included only a handful of people — that Trump has since repeated. Kobach also established rules requiring people show proof of citizenship to vote (which is being challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union) and created Kansas' Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, which crosschecks voter data to determine whether people are registered in more than one state.

Civil rights and legal groups say the order and premise to combat voter fraud merely are a guise to implement a national voter registration database and tool to disenfranchise voters.

The Department of Justice also sent a letter June 29 requesting states send updates on the maintenance of voter rolls through the National Voter Registration Act, which allows people to register to vote through drivers license renewals and public assistance applications. The DOJ is asking states to respond within 30 days.

The commission is asking for the data by July 14. It meets July 19.

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