(TriceEdneyWire.com)—After President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey because of, as Trump admitted, the “Russian thing,” he struck a new blow to American democracy: He created a commission on “election integrity,” stemming from his fantastical claims of voter fraud in the 2016 election.
In reality, fraudulent voting is virtually nonexistent. The claims of widespread voter fraud are a fraud. Voter suppression, on the other hand, is a real, present and increasing threat to our democracy. And all signs are that Trump’s commission will add to that threat.
Trump named Vice President Mike Pence as chair, with Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a leading advocate of ballot-restricting legislation, as vice chair. Kobach has made a national spectacle of himself as a crazed pursuer of mythical voter fraud. In Kansas, Kobach has led Republican efforts to suppress the vote.
As Ari Berman of the Nation reports, Kobach claimed that “the illegal registration of alien voters has become pervasive,” although he could point to only five alleged cases of noncitizens voting in Kansas during the previous 13 years.
Kobach helped push through a law that required documentary proof of citizenship to register to vote, such as a birth certificate, a passport or naturalization papers. That requirement disproportionately impacts the elderly, the poor and the young, who often don’t have access to such papers. Since the law went into effect in 2013, Berman reports, “one in seven Kansans who attempted to register have had their registrations held ‘in suspense’ by the state.”
To solve the non-problem of voter fraud, in 2015 Kansas gave Kobach the power to prosecute such cases. So far, he’s convicted nine people. Only last month did he convict his first and only noncitizen for voting fraud. The Kansas City Star has noted the paltry results Kobach has to show for his unique prosecutorial powers, mocking him as the “Javert of voter fraud,” a reference to the obsessed police inspector of “Les Miserables.”