How the Election Integrity Commission Is Preparing to Purge Voter Rolls

Yesterday Trump’s so-called “Election Integrity Commission” held its first public meeting. On the same day, Vanita Gupta, former acting director of the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice, broke some news by telling us how the commission is coordinating with AG Sessions to purge the voter rolls.

Gupta begins by acknowledging that the commission’s massive request for personal data on voters has gotten a fair amount of attention. She then notes an additional request that went largely unnoticed.

Lost amid the uproar over the commission’s request was a letter sent at the same time by the Justice Department’s civil rights division. It forced 44 states to provide extensive information on how they keep their voter rolls up-to-date. It cited the 1993 National Voter Registration Act, known as the Motor-Voter law, which mandates that states help voters register through motor vehicle departments.

The letter doesn’t ask whether states are complying with the parts of the law that expand opportunities to register. Instead it focuses on the sections related to maintaining the lists. That’s a prelude to voter purging.

Usually the Justice Department would ask only a single state for data if it had evidence the state wasn’t complying with Motor-Voter. But a blanket request to every state covered under that law is virtually unprecedented. And unlike the commission, the Justice Department has federal statutory authority to investigate whether states are complying with the law.

So here’s how it will go down. The commission will create a national database of voters and look for duplicates. As Gupta correctly points out, they won’t be able to tell two people with the same name and birthday apart. So every instance of the same name and birthdate will be counted as a case of fraud.

Also, keep in mind that they will be basing all of this on voter registration rolls, not actual votes. When is the last time someone who moved thought to call and cancel their previous voter registration? But the commission will report all of these as fraud and expect states to purge these voters from their rolls. This is where AG Sessions comes it to play. If the commission doesn’t think that states are cooperating in these efforts, they’ll call in the Department of Justice to investigate and force compliance.

Meanwhile, the commission will issue reports claiming that these duplicates represent massive voter fraud.

Members of Congress will seize on them to turn back protections in federal law. States will enact new barriers to the ballot box. Courts will point to the commission’s work to justify their decisions.

This commission was initially nothing more than an attempt by Trump to vindicate his lies about massive voter fraud in the 2016 election, which were meant to dismiss the fact that he lost the popular vote. But the minute he turned it over to the likes of Kris Kobach, Ken Blackwell, Hans von Spakovsky and J. Christian Adams, it became something much more sinister.

Mr. Kobach has been at the vanguard of a crusade against Motor-Voter and has been sued at least three times for making it harder for Kansans to vote. Before the 2016 election, he illegally blocked tens of thousands of voters from registering. Mr. Blackwell rejected registration forms because they were printed on paper he thought was too thin. Mr. von Spakovsky has led numerous unsuccessful legal efforts to diminish voter participation and to fight voting rights. Mr. Adams published personal information about people whom he wrongly accused of committing multiple felonies in a flawed hunt for fraud.

Make no mistake about it. The goal of these people is to suppress the right to vote in this country. They were assembled under the leadership of VP Mike Pence, who is now wholly complicit in their activities. Cooperation on any level ensures that voter purges will come.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60 .