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.
The first act of the “commission” was to request a wide range of personal information of every registered voter in America including their full name, date of birth, and Social Security information, along with party affiliation and voting history. Most secretaries of state saw it for what it was, a startling overreach.
Many state elections officials, both Republicans and Democrats, simply said no. I was one of them. Republican elections officials in states as red as Mississippi and Louisiana also rejected the Trump commission request.