The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund recently filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging President Trump’s Election Integrity Commission as illegal and unconstitutional. Our complaint makes clear that to falsely allege that voter fraud exists is nothing more than a pretext for the suppression of Black and Latino voters. Ours is the seventh suit against the commission, and the first to allege that it discriminates against voters of color. Statements made by President Trump and his surrogates demonstrate the connection between race and the commission’s search for voter fraud. Without offering any evidence, the president has repeatedly claimed that voter fraud is rampant in the U.S. and that he lost the popular vote in the 2016 election because of millions of “illegal” votes cast for Hillary Clinton. He has couched these allegations in racially coded terms, implying that voter impersonation is perpetrated mostly by immigrants or residents of predominantly Black urban centers. A few weeks before the election, then-candidate Trump told a predominantly white crowd in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, “I just hear such reports about Philadelphia. … We have to make sure that this election is not stolen from us and is not taken away from us.” He added: “Everybody knows what I’m talking about.”
The commission’s members have made similar insinuations. Vice chairman Kris Kobach, Kansas’ Secretary of State, has associated minority voters with “ethnic cleansing.” In 2014, he described a conspiracy to “[replace] American voters with illegal aliens.” Just this week, a federal judge upheld an earlier ruling against Kobach, citing a “pattern” of “misleading the Court” about documents he was photographed taking into a meeting with Trump last November. Kobach initially refused to produce the documents, which included text that read “Draft Amendments to the National Voter …,” and was subsequently fined by the court. U.S. District Judge Court Julie Robinson ruled this week that “statements [were] made or positions taken by Secretary Kobach that have called his credibility into question.”
Commissioner Hans von Spakovsky, a fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, dismissed evidence of foreign interference in the 2016 election by stating without any factual basis that the “real” threat “is from inaccurate voter rolls full of ineligible voters, from the dead to noncitizens to felons.”
In a column for the far-right website PJMedia.com, Commissioner J. Christian Adams wrote: “…when it comes to voter fraud, when you catch one crook, it usually means there are hundreds more hiding in the darkness. When it comes to aliens voting, it’s more like thousands and thousands.” He also alleged that the Obama Administration was attempting to “import populations with cultural and legal traditions foreign to American traditions,” and that “noncitizen voting helps the left win elections” – statements with no factual basis whatsoever.