Thursday, July 06, 2017

Kris Kobach's Ministry of Voter Suppression

Voter suppression czar, Republican Kris Kobach
In the cruel pantheon of the modern American Republican Party ideology, aside from a fetish-like obsession with lowering the tax burden on the wealthiest 1%, no idol is more worshiped than the suppression of the right to vote.

Content to abandon their supposed allegiance to Constitutional principles, many Republicans have now gone full tilt and embarked upon a crusade to aggressively block access to the ballot box on a nationwide scale.

No that long ago these reprehensible voter suppression tactics were generally engineered from the state level in those states with majority-Republican state legislatures and Republican governors mostly working off of scripts, media talking points and model legislation courtesy of our old friends at the American Legislation Exchange Council (ALEC).

Check out the Center for Media and Democracy's 'ALEC Exposed' Website to learn more about how ALEC helped Republican politicians lay the groundwork for massive voter suppression by enacting ludicrous, overly-burdensome voter ID laws in at least 37 different states following the 2010 mid-term elections.

To most Americans it's an affront to the basic principles of democracy, but as you've likely heard over the past week couple weeks, Republican efforts to target the voter rolls of the entire nation are now being orchestrated from the federal level - directly from the Trump administration.

As Madeline Conway reported yesterday in an article for, written requests from the Presidential Advisory Commission On Election Integrity for individual states to provide detailed information including voter's full names, the last four digits of their Social Security numbers, party affiliation, voting history since 2006, and information on felonies and military status, were met with widespread outrage - and not just from traditionally blue states either.

Mississippi Sec. of State Delbert Hosemann
After reviewing a copy of the letter sent from Trump' widely-panned commission, Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said his response would be:

"They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great state to launch from." 

And he's a Republican from Mississippi.

As Chris Cillizza reported for CNN yesterday, at least 45 states have already refused to provide at least some of the information to the commission.

Democratic Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe got to the heart of the matter when he said in a statement:

"This entire commission is based on the specious and false notion that there was widespread voter fraud last November. At best this commission was set up as a pretext to validate Donald Trump's alternative election facts, and at worse is a tool to commit large-scale voter suppression."
The blowback for the Trump administration's "voter integrity commission" and it's chief architect Kris Kobach has been swift, but what's really bizarre are their attempts to justify and defend it.

Despite serious pushback from dozens of secretaries of state and governors, Kobach simplistically dismissed the media's efforts to question the commission's motives "fake news."

And predictably, Trump took to Twitter to suggest that anyone who doesn't comply has something to hide.

What else can you expect from Republicans who know they can no longer win the mainstream American vote based on the issues?

Whether it's gerrymandering of political districts or voter suppression, they must cheat to win.

What real voter fraud looks like courtesy of Crosscheck
What's particularly troubling is that if you take some time and go back and read Greg Palast's meticulously-researched article "The GOP's Stealth War Against Voters" published in Rolling Stone back in August of 2016 in the lead-up to the November elections, Trump's outrageous information request is really nothing more than a souped-up version of Kris Kobach's widely-condemned voter data collection system known as Crosscheck.

As Palast noted, based on the algorithms and search parameters within the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program as it's formally known, the program "disproportionately threatens solid Democratic constituencies: young, black, Hispanic and Asian-American voters" by incorrectly listing certain ethnic-sounding last names as inherently suspicious.

Click the link above and read some of the flagrant ways in which thousands of mostly-minority Americans were improperly and unfairly "flagged" by Crosscheck and denied the right to vote.

It's truly Third-World authoritarian stuff, and this big data request by Trump's "commission" (ostensibly headed up by Kobach) is nothing more than an attempt to create a "Crosscheck 2.0" in time for the 2018 mid-term elections.

If you missed it, check out Ari Berman's profile of Kobach that was published in the New York Times Magazine back on June 13th.

Kobach is a genuinely dangerous individual, heading up a hyper-partisan "voter integrity commission made up of a cast right-wing zealots summoned up from the putrid depths of authoritarian bigotry.

Voter suppression zealot Hans Von Spakovsky
No member of Trump's "commission" embodies that more than the widely-reviled Hans Von Spakovsky, a former member of the Federal Election Commission who oversaw the division of the Justice Department that monitored voting rights during the Bush administration.

If there is a Creature From the Black Lagoon of Republican voter suppression, it's this guy.

His mission in life is clear:

Use arcane misinterpretation of data, racist and xenophobic fear-mongering and the flagrant manipulation of existing federal and state laws to prevent as many people of color, the elderly, students, legal immigrants and people with foreign-sounding names from participating in the voting process as possible.

If you're not familiar with this guy, take some time to read Leon Neyfakh's recent feature on Von Spakovsky published on titled, "The Dark Prince Of Voter Fraud Alarmism Is Joining the Trump Administration".

Kris Kobach may be the evangelist of Republican voter suppression in America but Hans Von Spakovsky is arguably the high priest - a man who has literally spent years trying to make it harder for non-white people to vote in the name of mass voter fraud that simply does not exist.

Trump is far too self-obsessed, uninformed and shallow to realize the degree to which Kobach and Von Spakovsky are true believers in the Ministry of Voter Suppression.

He embraces them and their so-called commission only because he thinks it will help legitimize his continuing delusional fiction that he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton because 3 to 5 million illegal aliens cast votes in the 2016 presidential election.

Make no mistake, men like Kobach and Von Spakovsky need Trump too in order to lend an air of credibility to the dark and arcane arts they practice - Trump's concocted unproven lies about fictional "busloads" of illegal aliens costing him the popular vote in 2016 are right up their alley.

And their "presence" in the White House under the guise of a presidential advisory board is indeed a boon to the likes of Trump policy advisors like Stephen Bannon and Stephen Miller - and proof positive that a cabal of white nationalists eager to create a 21st century version of Apartheid in America now runs the presidency.

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