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Everything you Need to Know about Kris Kobach, the Commission on Election Integrity, Voter Suppression and How to Stop Them All

1. What is the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity?

On May 11, Trump signed an Executive Order creating the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. As reported by Slate, the commission will be tasked with studying, “‘those laws, rules, policies, activities, strategies, and practices that enhance the American people’s confidence in the integrity of the voting processes used in Federal elections’ as well as those laws that ‘undermine’ that confidence, in addition to ‘those vulnerabilities in voting systems and practices … that could lead to improper voter registrations and improper voting, including fraudulent voter registrations and fraudulent voting.’”

In other words, Trump created a commission that will be responsible for producing propaganda that blames minority voters for a nonexistent epidemic of voter fraud. Using the deceptive rhetoric of voter fraud, Trump and the GOP will — as they have for years — pass illegal voter restrictions that deprive millions of minorities of their Constitutional right to vote.

2. Who is Kris Kobach?

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) describes Kris Kobach as “…a longtime lawyer for far-right extremist groups with ties to white nationalists and is a leader in the movement to suppress the votes of minorities.

Known for being a loud proponent of the birther movement, he aggressively attempted to keep Barack Obama off of the election ballot in Kansas for lack of proof of citizenship. He has advised Trump building his wall between the US and Mexico, assisted in the design and implementation the Muslim Bans and increased the use of the Department of Homeland Security as a more active component of mass deportation efforts. Kobach is the designer of both Arizona’s SB 1070, which has been described as the most racist law in modern history, and the Interstate Crosscheck System — which alone purged over 1 million minority voters from active registration rolls just prior to the 2016 Presidential Election.

The Kansas Secretary of State, and now Vice Chair of the Commission on Election Integrity, has literally made a career for himself by experimenting with different ways to deprive minority communities of their Constitutional and Civil Rights. And he doesn’t work alone.

3. Kris Kobach is a White Nativist that Works Extensively with a White Supremacist Hate Group.

The Trump Administration is comprised of a network of unapologetic racists and powerful white supremacists including Robert Mercer, Stephen Bannon, Steve Miller, Seb Gorka, and Jeff Sessions. These men represent a very small tip of a very white iceberg.

For example, these individuals are connected to a network of politically active white supremacist organizations such as the Project on Fair Representation — the organization responsible for gutting Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act — and the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). FAIR, which today boasts 1.3 million members and support from close to 50 powerful private funding institutions, works tirelessly to push forward a political agenda which includes:

“[Reducing] legal immigration from well over one million presently, to 300,000 a year over a sustained period will allow America to more sensibly manage its growth, address its environmental needs, and maintain a high quality of life. To make that happen, we work for policies that put the interests of American citizens ahead of big business and special interests demands.”

Kris Kobach, the new Vice Chair of the Commission on Election Integrity, is one of the star players on FAIR’s legal team.

4. Kobach is Responsible for the Interstate Crosscheck System.

According to Health of State Democracies,

“The Interstate Crosscheck system is a database used by officials…to identify voters potentially registered to vote in more than one state. States need a mechanism to maintain accurate voter rolls, but the states participating in the Interstate Crosscheck system risk purging legally registered voters — with a significant oversampling from communities of color — from the voting lists.”

Through a signed Memorandum of Understanding between participating Secretaries of State, the first purges were conducted in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Iowa in 2006. In 2007, Kobach was rewarded with a position as the Chair of the Kansas Republican Party. By election season of 2010, 13 states had signed on to the Interstate Crosscheck System. And by the end of the 2010 elections, the Republican party had taken over the House of Representatives. For his part, Kobach was rewarded with a position as Kansas Secretary of State. By the 2014 elections, the number of Crosscheck states had exploded to 27 states. That same year, the Republican Party took full control of Congress. As the 2016 elections closed in, 29 states were contracted into the Crosscheck, and approximately 1 million voters were successfully purged.

The GOP kept control of Congress, Donald Trump overthrew the White House and Kobach was given a federal position in the Commission on Election Integrity by Executive Order for his outstanding achievements in election rigging.

5. Kobach is Responsible for Diffusing Voter ID Restrictions Nationwide.

As Kobach himself boasts,

Finally, in 2011 Kansas took the lead as the first state to combine three election-security policies: (1) requiring a government-issued photo ID for voting in person, (2) requiring either a Kansas driver’s license number or photocopy of a current photo ID for applying for a mail-in ballot, and (3) requiring a document proving U.S. citizenship when a person registers to vote for the first time. Consequently, Kansas elections are the most secure in the nation against fraud.”

In order to ensure enough states were able to adopt Kobach’s voter restriction plan to secure victory in the 2014 midterm election and the 2016 presidential election, though, Kobach would have to ensure that more states adopted his Voter ID restrictions. In order to do that, a piece of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 would have to be dismantled.

Specifically, the Project on Fair Representation sought to remove the provision that required certain jurisdictions to gain approval of the federal government before making changes in their voting policies. The removal of this restriction would allow states to make adjustments to their voting policies that directly benefitted the Republican party. Preparing to gut the VRA in order to make adjustments to state voting policies nationwide, Bert Rein (of Watergate fame) and Blum went to court to render Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act completely useless. (Shelby County v. Holder) And they were successful.

Kobach and the GOP immediately went to work enacting polling closures, signing states on to Crosscheck and passing voter ID restrictions in a total of 33 states. Voter ID restrictions, which effects voters of color at twice the rate of white voters, rendered 21 million voters unable to access the polls.

And while Section 5 of the VRA can and should be restored, the damage has already been done.

6. Kobach Already has the Information he Needs from the Majority of States Claiming to Fight Him

As detailed in a report by Crosscheck expert Greg Palast:

“Mark Swedlund, a database expert whose clients include eBay and American Express, looked at the data from Georgia and Virginia, and he was shocked…. Swedlund’s statistical analysis found that African-American, Latino and Asian names predominate, a simple result of the Crosscheck matching process, which spews out little more than a bunch of common names. No surprise: The U.S. Census data shows that minorities are overrepresented in 85 of 100 of the most common last names. If your name is Washington, there’s an 89 percent chance you’re African-American. If your last name is Hernandez, there’s a 94 percent chance you’re Hispanic. If your name is Kim, there’s a 95 percent chance you’re Asian.

This inherent bias results in an astonishing one in six Hispanics, one in seven Asian-Americans and one in nine African-Americans in Crosscheck states landing on the list.”

Ultimately, to accomplish many of his goals, all Kobach needs is the names and locations of voters in multiple states. He already has this information from 29 states through the Interstate Crosscheck System. And while securing the depth of information he requested from the states would enable Kobach, the GOP, the Trump Administration, and their white supremacist handlers to suppress with absolute precision at the local, state, and federal levels — Kobach has already rigged enough elections to secure the Republican Party the House, the Senate, and the White House.

7. Kobach Used Voter Suppression Tactics to Eliminate 50 Million Democratic Voters from the 2016 Election

The math is mind boggling. In the name of a completely nonexistent and fictional epidemic of voter fraud led by organized hordes of undocumented immigrants, Kobach was able to suppress an upwards of 50 million voters nationwide.

If we add together the 1 million purged voters, the 21 million suppressed through voter ID restrictions, the 6 million suppressed by felony disenfranchisement, the 10 million people with disabilities suppressed through polling place closures and ADA violations, and the 10 million Democratic underclass voters missing from the polls, that brings us to a total of 48 million Democratic voters that were prevented from casting a ballot in the 2016 election. (for a more detailed analysis, please see the long form version of this article.)

To put this number in perspective, just under 63 million people voted for Trump. Just under 66 million voted for Clinton. 50 million left leaning voters were prevented from voting because GOP policies.

8. Current Democratic Strategies to Stop Kobach and Voter Suppression Won’t Work. At All.

Currently, there are efforts by the Democratic party to counter participation with Kris Kobach’s Commission on Voter Integrity, to combat gerrymandering, and to counter low voter turnout with a focus on registering new voters, and preventing states from having to turn over information to the Kobach Commission — but there are no federally supported efforts to enforce the Voting Rights Act or re-enfranchise suppressed voters nationwide. Not one.

That doesn’t mean the strategy to stop voter suppression doesn’t exist — it’s just not being supported or applied, yet.

The one strategy that can re-enfranchise our voters and wipe out the suppression tactics of Kobach and the GOP nationwide is enforcement of Sections 2 and 11 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Democrats and community led legal organizations need to flood the lower federal district and circuit courts with cases asserting criminal violations of the VRA — and we need to get our voting rights back.

9. Kobach and the GOP’s voter suppression efforts are Illegal and it would not take an act of Congress to prosecute them

As SIIP reports:

“…while it is true that the GOP dealt a huge blow to the Act when the successfully neutralized Section 5 through the Supreme Court, this section is in no way responsible for the prosecution of those engaging in deprivation of rights. The sections that were designed to stop voter suppression are Sections 2 and 11. These sections remain perfectly intact.

Section 11 of the Voting Rights Act reads:

‘No person acting under color of law shall fail or refuse Prohibitions to permit any person to vote who is entitled to vote under any provision of this Act or is otherwise qualified to vote, or willfully fail or refuse to tabulate, count, and report such person’s vote’

Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act also specifies:

‘No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.’”

For once, the solution to countering Trump and the GOP is refreshingly straight forward.

Voter fraud was used as a front for voter suppression. Voter suppression is illegal. If we enforce the law that makes it illegal, the Voting Rights Act, voter suppression policies such as purging and voter ID requirements will be repealed. 50 million voters could potentially be re-enfranchised. And the people responsible would be eligible for incarceration.

All that is needed is for the Democrats, community legal organizations and the left to start flooding the courts with VRA cases and uniting behind these efforts in one united voice.

10. The Democrats and Members of the Left Need to Unite as one to Enforce the Voting Right Act

50 million voters are being disenfranchised. There is a law that is designed to counter that exact problem. If we enforce the Voting Rights Act we can re-enfranchise tens of millions of suppressed voters, ensure suppression laws are wiped off the books nationwide, and prosecute the individuals and organizations responsible for intentionally depriving this almost unfathomable number of people their Constitutional Right to Vote.

As a community, though, we must come together to:

1. Demand that the Democrats make VRA enforcement the primary focus of their strategic agenda to stop voter suppression.

2. Demand that all Democratic Secretaries of State pull out of Crosscheck, repeal all voter ID restrictions immediately, re-enfranchise voters with felonies and enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act in their home states.

3. Direct funding and support to community legal organizations and experts that are qualified to, but unable to fiscally advance, VRA cases in the district and circuit courts, and

4. Mobilize long-term, consistent direct action and media attention directly connected to the call for VRA enforcement.

As a nation, we have 50 million voters to re-enfranchise. We have a way to do it. And we need to get to work.

To learn more about voter suppression, the Voting Rights Act, and Strategies for Resistance, go to: http://strategycampsite.org/articles1.html

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