Last week, the U.S. Solicitor General took the unusual step of reinterpreting a 24-year-old federal statute specifically designed to convenience voting in order to switch sides in a pending Supreme Court case that centers on Ohio’s aggressive purging of voter rolls. The Trump Justice Department now sides with Ohio, which contends that not voting for six years — and then not responding to a single mailing asking the voter to confirm his or her registration — is sufficient to remove that person from state voter rolls. That should cause no small amount of alarm. It’s part of a broader effort by the Trump administration to restrict voting rights under the guise of fighting fraud, which is nearly non-existent. The true purpose is to keep from the polls individuals who are less likely to support Republican candidates or causes. And it’s a potential stake through the heart of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, also known as the “Motor Voter Act,” which was meant to expand, not shrink, the nation’s voter registration rolls.
South Dakota Secretary of State Shantel Krebs is considering a second request from the presidential advisory commission on election integrity for South Dakota voter registration data, an aide to Krebs said Friday. The July 26 request differs from the previous one because it promises voter information won’t be released to the public, according to spokesman Jason Williams. “The commission also stated in the second letter that they were no longer requesting personal identifying information such as Social Security numbers, driver license numbers, and full date of birth,” Williams said. He added: “This request is currently being reviewed by legal counsel to ensure that South Dakotan’s personal information is properly protected according to state law.”
It’s been called a faulty, error-prone failure. But that might not stop this system for rooting out vote fraud from getting a national debut. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the vice chair of President Donald Trump’s vote fraud commission, is looking to expand the “Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program” that he’s developed in his state to sweep possible illegal voters off the rolls. Crosscheck is a computer system designed to detect fraud by finding matches in voter registration lists shared by dozens of states and thereby detecting suspected double voters.
“In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions who voted illegally,” tweeted Donald Trump on November 27, following his win. Perhaps in an effort to prove social media blather correct, Trump has issued an executive order creating the Presidential Advisory Committee on Election Integrity. The goals of the committee include “studying vulnerabilities in the voting systems that could lead to voter fraud,” which requires collecting a large amount of personal voter information from the states. After facing serious legal pushback, even his supporters are wondering about its legitimacy. While the purity of the democratic process should be every citizen’s concern, the committee’s latest crusade, in violating privacy, has gone too far.
New Jersey appears not to have shared any of the information that President Trump’s voter fraud commission first requested in June, and state election officials won’t clarify their stance on the commission’s work or say if they will cooperate. Robert Giles, director of the New Jersey Division of Elections, said last month that the request for voter data was “under review” and that the state would not release information to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity “that is not publicly available or does not follow the appropriate legal process for information requests.” On Friday, the division said that it had no documents responsive to an Open Public Records Act request for correspondence the division has had with the commission since the beginning of June, including any voter information it may have shared. Since then, election officials have not returned several messages seeking to clarify whether the commission has filed a formal request for information and whether New Jersey would share the data if such a request is made.
Editorials: We face greatest threat to voting rights of past half-century | Alex Padilla/The Fresno Bee
Two years ago, President Barack Obama marked the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act with a White House summit on protecting and expanding the right to vote. As California’s chief elections officer, I was invited to this significant event. It was an inspiring day, meeting in the Oval Office with the president and Georgia Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights icon, and joining voting rights advocates from across the country in a series of panels. Sunday marked the 52nd anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act. The contrast in the White House could not be more stark. Our current president believes, without evidence, that millions of “illegal votes” cost him the popular vote. He has created a sham “Election Integrity Commission” headed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the nation’s foremost vote suppressor, to place barriers between American citizens and their right to vote. Make no mistake: We are facing the greatest threat to voting rights in the past half-century.
New Hampshire: ACLU, state come to terms on release of voter data to Trump fraud commission | Union Leader
The Secretary of State will proceed with the release of information from voter checklists to a presidential commission on election fraud, now that a lawsuit filed by two New Hampshire lawmakers and the ACLU to stop the release has been resolved. The resolution was announced in a Nashua courtroom just as a hearing was about to get under way Monday on a request for an injunction to stop Secretary of State Bill Gardner from providing the information to the election commission. The case came down to interpretation of language within the same state statute (RSA 654), which in one part states “the information contained on the checklist of a town or city … is public information subject to (the Right to Know law),” but in another section regarding the statewide database maintained by the Secretary of State, says “The voter database shall be private and confidential and shall not be subject to (the Right to Know law).”
I know all about common names. I have heard all the jokes, as had my father, a unique and remarkable man named Bob Smith. Unfortunately, common names like ours are just one of many problems that will face Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in his new role as co-chair of President Trump’s Election Integrity Commission. Recall that in 2010, candidate Kobach publicly declared that he planned to remove Alfred K. Brewer from the Wichita voting rolls, because he had died. Brewer was surprised to hear this when journalists found him alive, raking leaves. The deceased was actually his father, Alfred K. Brewer Sr., who would have been 110 at the time. Screening lists for suffixes like “Junior,” “Senior” and “III” is not a foolproof procedure. For example, former President George W. Bush is not a “Junior” because he lacks one of his father’s two middle names. How about birthdays? A few years ago, two political scientists studied Georgia’s voter rolls, only to discover numerous instances of two different people (and in a few cases, more than two) with the same matching first, middle, and last names and birthdays — including the year. Seem unlikely? Georgia has nearly 5 million registered voters, so even a one-in-a-million chance means there will be a few such cases — and with common names, the chances of a name and birthday match are considerably higher.
While other states have started sending voter information to President Donald Trump’s commission investigating election fraud, a judge will determine whether New Hampshire will comply. A hearing is set for Monday in a lawsuit filed by two lawmakers and a civil liberties group hoping to stop Secretary of State Bill Gardner from sending voter roll data to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. The case, filed early last month, had been on hold pending the outcome of a similar lawsuit in Washington. In that case, a judge denied the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s request to block the data collection, though the advocacy group is appealing the ruling.
National: Federal judge denies Common Cause effort to block Trump fraud commission | The Washington Post
A federal judge on Tuesday declined to temporarily bar President Trump’s voting commission from collecting voter data from states and the District, saying a federal appeals court likely will be deciding the legality of the request. U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth of the District denied an emergency motion by Common Cause, a nonprofit government watchdog group. The group alleged the request for voting history and political party affiliation by the Trump administration violates a Watergate-era law that prohibits the government from gathering information about how Americans exercise their First Amendment rights. Lamberth advised the group to flesh out its claims by documenting the commission’s activity at a recent July 19 meeting while the lawsuit continues.