Pence Is Backing Racist Voter Suppression Efforts

When President Trump launched a voter fraud commission in May to substantiate his claim that millions of illegal votes lost him the popular vote — and to lay the groundwork for massive voter suppression — he didn’t have to look far for someone to lead it. Vice President Mike Pence was an obvious pick.

Now, the vote-suppression commission Pence heads is even considering forcing Americans to undergo background checks (like those required for buying a gun) before registering to vote.

Pence raided the office of an organization dedicated to registering African American voters

As governor of Indiana, Pence oversaw an effort to suppress minority voting. A month before the 2016 presidential election, and one week before Indiana’s deadline to register to vote, state police raided the offices of Patriot Majority USA, a group dedicated to registering African-American voters. The group’s director called it a politically motivated attack meant to intimidate voters and suppress the vote in urban areas. Later, state police found that the voter registration discrepancies that led to the raid had nothing to do with fraud.

Pence scaled back early voting opportunities in Dem-leaning urban areas

Also under Pence, the Indiana GOP expanded early-voting opportunities in largely white, GOP-dominated parts of the state while scaling back those opportunities in urban, Democratic areas.

It’s no wonder then that Pence was put in charge of Trump’s commission, which also includes the nation’s leading figure in the voter suppression movement, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Briefly floated for a cabinet position, Kobach is a voter fraud conspiracy theorist like Trump and the architect of Arizona’s infamous “papers please” law.

Pence is spreading the Trump lie that there was widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election

Together, Pence and Kobach have set out to find evidence backing up Trump’s unsubstantiated claim of widespread voter fraud, while also making it harder for people of color, working people and the elderly to vote in 2018 and 2020. If they follow the model set forward by Kobach in Kansas, that will mean an attempt to encourage more voter ID laws, which make it harder for people in poverty to register and to vote.

One of the commission’s goals appears to be implementing Kobach’s Crosscheck system, which compares voter rolls across states in an attempt to find fraudulent of duplicative registrations. Problem is, the exceedingly flawed system is, by one measure, wrong 99 percent of the time.

The commission has already proven its incompetence. In late June it began asking states for vital information on voters so that it could “fully analyze vulnerabilities and issues related to voter registration and voting.” Problem was, in his letters to each state, Kobach asked for information that officials could not or would not turn over. In all, 41 states denied the request from Pence’s commission, with one Republican secretary of state saying, “They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Still, the main problem with the commission is not how it operates, but that it exists at all. Study after study shows that voter fraud isn’t a problem, while other studies show the harm that voter ID laws can inflict. The entire commission is an exercise is soothing Trump’s ego and Pence is the man making it go.