While Democrats, Republicans, and the intelligence community are all warning about potential Russian meddling in the November midterm elections, ordinary citizens face even greater obstacles to exercising their vote. WhoWhatWhy spoke to voting rights and election integrity experts about the broad range of threats to voting access. They noted that there are other serious election concerns that voters should worry about this fall — challenges to the integrity of the voting process that are not getting enough attention in the mainstream media. In 2016, Donald Trump campaigned with a warning that the vote might be rigged against him. After winning the election but not the popular vote, President Trump — to prove his (completely unsubstantiated) claim that “millions voted illegally” — established a commission to address alleged voter fraud. The commission was later disbanded after many states refused to turn over sensitive voter data and allegations surfaced that its true purpose may have been voter suppression.
According to Robert Hoffman, State Advocacy for Voting Rights at the ACLU, Trump’s commission ignored crucial voting rights issues. In fact, Hoffman complained, its impact had the opposite effect:
“Instead of addressing necessary barriers to the ballot, such as low voter turnout and outdated and insecure voting systems, Trump’s sham commission focused on selling the lie that he won the 2016 popular vote. This, in turn, justified subsequent voter suppression tactics.”
Voter suppression has worsened over the last decade, Hoffman charged. Most obviously by state legislatures who made it more difficult for some Americans to exercise their right to vote.