Two days after firing FBI director James Comey and creating a full-blown constitutional crisis, Donald Trump signed an executive order today creating a presidential commission on “election integrity,” based on his debunked claims that millions voted illegally in 2016.
Vice President Mike Pence will be the chair and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach will be the vice chair—two men with very long histories of making it harder to vote, especially Kobach. Given the lack of evidence of voter fraud, the commission seems designed for one purpose: to perpetuate the myth of fraud in order to lay the groundwork for enacting policies that suppress the vote.
If you want to know what such voter intimidation looks like, take a look at Pence’s home state of Indiana, where state police in October 2016 raided the offices of a group working to register African-American and low-income voters. They seized thousands of voter-registration applications, even though only 10 were suspected to be fraudulent and no one has been charged.
In Kansas, Kobach has been the driving force within the GOP behind policies that erect new barriers to the ballot box and the most fervent evangelist of unproven voter-fraud claims.
When he ran for secretary of state of Kansas in 2010, Kobach alleged that “the illegal registration of alien voters has become pervasive,” even though there were only five alleged cases of noncitizens voting in Kansas during the previous 13 years on a report of 221 “incidents” he distributed widely.
That led Kansas to enact a law requiring documentary proof of citizenship to register to vote, such as a birth certificate, a passport, or naturalization papers. Since the law went into effect in 2013, one in seven Kansans who attempted to register have had their registrations held “in suspense” by the state. The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit blocked a key part of the law last year, ruling that “there was an almost certain risk that thousands of otherwise qualified Kansans would be unable to vote in November.”