Editorial Boards Nationwide: Pence-Kobach Voting Commission is a Sham

Voting Rights 07.26,17

Last week, Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach held the inaugural meeting of their Voter Suppression Commission – a clear effort to marginalize voters across the country and support President Trump’s unproven claim that millions of people voted illegally in 2016. In a New York Times op-ed, Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, denounced this sham commission as a blatant effort by the Trump administration to purge voter rolls. As this commission attempts to suppress and intimidate voters, The Leadership Conference will stand with our allies in Congress and nationwide and defend every American’s right to vote.

Below is a roundup from editorial boards around the country condemning the actions of the Pence-Kobach Commission:

Kansas City Star: “Not surprisingly, Kobach spurred bipartisan complaints with his request for data on all registered voters — a controversial move aimed at bolstering his widely disputed contention that voter fraud is rampant in U.S. elections.” [Editorial: Missouri voters, get your photo IDs ready, July 24]

Topeka Capital-Journal: “During the interview on MSNBC, Kobach said the ‘point of the commission’ is to determine how susceptible our electoral system is to fraud and how much fraud has taken place. If this is the case, why do Trump and Kobach talk as if they already have all the information they need? Why does Trump make brazen pronouncements about ‘millions of people who voted illegally?’ Why does Kobach robotically agree with him? What was the impetus for his obsession with voter fraud in the first place? Trump and Kobach have demonstrated that they aren’t approaching this issue in a spirit of objectivity. In fact, their bias couldn’t be any more obvious.” [Editorial: Trump and Kobach have an obvious agenda, July 24]

Washington Post: “The relentless suggestions to the contrary, even in the absence of proof of any widespread illegal voting, has had the intended effect: Americans’ confidence in the honesty of elections has fallen steadily for almost a decade, according to a Gallup poll, and sharply last year as Mr. Trump harped on alleged vote “rigging.” An honest election commission would make constructive suggestions for systemic improvements while at the same time debunking the patently phony idea that fraud is common. In this case, however, Mr. Kobach and his allies have an all-too-transparent agenda.” [Trump’s election commission is fully transparent about its purpose: Voter obstruction, July 23]

Washington Post: “There is not a shred of evidence for this — none, zero, zilch. Trump’s defenders could find no plausible way to support his statement, which is not unusual. But Trump never backs off from a falsehood. So instead, he did something without precedent: He appointed a presidential commission solely to justify an offhand lie.” [The Trump election commission exists solely to justify a Trump lie, July 23]

Lawrence Journal-World: “Recently, The New York Times asked election officials in all 50 states if there was widespread voter fraud in their state; 49 said there was not. Kobach refused to respond. Yet, if Kansas is besieged by voter fraud, Kobach has been unable to find it. During his six-plus years in office, Kobach’s office has pursued no more than a handful of voter fraud cases. Obviously, there are significantly more pressing matters that need to be addressed including health care, taxes and valid concerns over Russia’s interference in last November’s election. The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is at best a waste of time. The Trump administration would be wise to focus its attention elsewhere.” [Editorial: An utter waste of time, money, July 23]

New York Times: “Now vaulted to the national stage, Mr. Kobach insists the commission is not relitigating Mr. Trump’s bogus claims of illegal voting. Yet after last week’s meeting he was asked whether Hillary Clinton had won the popular vote. “We may never know the answer to that question,” he replied. (We do; she did.) There are two possible explanations for why Mr. Kobach and his team continue to pursue their antifraud campaign. Either they know it’s all a lie but want to increase Republican electoral chances, or they actually believe their own paranoid fantasies. It’s hard to know which poses the bigger danger to democracy.” [The Bogus Voter-Fraud Commission, July 22]

Central Maine: Just to refresh your memory: Hillary Clinton won the popular vote for president by nearly 2.9 million votes. Voter fraud is vanishingly rare: 31 credible allegations nationwide out of over a billion votes cast in all primary, general, special and municipal elections between 2000 and 2014, according to a study by Loyola Law School professor Justin Levitt. So it’s ludicrous to assert that there could have been more than a handful of illegal ballots cast in last fall’s election — let alone millions. Not that this will stop Kansas Secretary of State Kobach and other true believers from trying to smoke out fraudulent voting. And they’ve used their groundless concerns to justify mandatory photo-ID laws and other regulations that keep likely Democratic voters from casting a ballot.” [Our View: Election Integrity Commission’s goal is clearly voter suppression, July 21]

Kansas City Star: “President Donald Trump’s Commission on Election Integrity officially began its work Wednesday, and early signs were not encouraging. The group was formed after the president alleged ‘millions’ of people cast illegal votes last November, costing him a popular vote victory. Most Americans know the claim is preposterous. We expect the commission to spend the next several months and plenty of taxpayer dollars confirming that understanding.” [Editorial: Kris Kobach begins work on Trump election panel in search of mythical voter fraud, July 19]

The Tennessean: “It is hard to say which is more alarming:

  • That this commission was set up and continues to operate with the aim of soothing the ego of our commander-in-chief, who is still steaming that he lost the popular vote last year.
  • Or that this politically motivated group wants to get its hands on a massive data trove detailing individual Americans’ voting habits and personal information like Social Security numbers.

The logical question is, what does the Trump administration intend to do with this information?” [Election ‘integrity’ commission ought to recommend disbanding itself, July 18]

Des Moines Register: “Despite all this, the commission is going to continue its work, driven by the raging insecurities of a president who has publicly acknowledged that his motives for creating the panel are somewhat personal. He’s still smarting from the fact that although he was legitimately elected president, he lost the popular vote by 2.9 million ballots. He insists voter fraud is to blame…Now the taxpayers have to foot the bill for a commission that is desperately searching for evidence to back up these dangerous, unfounded claims. There’s clearly “fraud happening” here, but it’s occurring on Pennsylvania Avenue, not in the voting booth.” [Editorial: ‘Election integrity’ panel is its own form of fraud, July 7]

USA Today: “Meanwhile, despite the lack of evidence of voter fraud, Trump is gung-ho for reform because those votes — from illegal immigrants and others scamming the system — are presumed to be going in high percentages to Democrats because they’re the ones that cheat. What we do know is the various voter ID laws attempted across the nation effectively disenfranchise legal voters — mostly lower-income people and immigrants. An appeals court last year struck down a Republican-led North Carolina voter ID law because its provisions, such as tighter registration requirements and a reduction in early voting, “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision.” Conservatives support suppression tactics because disenfranchised voters tend to lean Democratic. So they don’t want those people at the polls anyway.” [EDITORIAL: Don’t cave to voter ‘integrity’ panel, July 6]