Democrats are fighting back against President Trump’s efforts to use his frequently repeated but unproven claims of voter fraud during the 2016 election to make it even more difficult for many people to vote in future elections.
The Commission on Protecting American Democracy from the Trump Administration is being launched by the Democratic National Committee three weeks after Trump announced an election integrity commission to look into illegal voting.
Former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander has been named to head the new Democratic commission. He is also president of Let America Vote, which goes after elected officials who pass laws and rules to make it more difficult for people to vote, especially minorities.
“When Donald Trump made the false and baseless claim that three to five million illegal votes were cast in the 2016 election, he told one of the biggest lies in presidential history,” said Kander.
“While Trump’s misleading claims about voter fraud were probably made to mend his bruised ego after losing the popular vote,” added Kander, “he created an opening for Republican politicians to nationalize their efforts to complicate voting and suppress eligible voters.”
Tom Perez, who is now DNC Chairman, said that Trump’s commission is “part of the continuing dissemination of alternative facts. The commission itself is fraudulent, in the sense that voter fraud is a virtually non-existent phenomenon in this country.”
“With Donald Trump in the White House and Jeff Sessions by his side,” said Perez, “Americans cannot rely on the Justice Department to fight back on behalf of disenfranchised voters. It’s time that the Democratic Party fights back.”
“Instead of listening to constituents and working to earn their votes,” added Perez, “Republicans would rather deny them their constitutional rights at the ballot box. Our commission will be ready to counter every move that the Trump administration makes to silence eligible voters.”
The DNC will increase its staff working on the related issues from one person to four people working on voter rights. The new commission is part of the DNC’s recently launched Voter Protectin and Empowerment Unit, which aims to safeguard voting rights. It will work to ensure military get to vote where ever they are in the world, and that Democratic candidates have access to the ballots in all states.
Those efforts will also include state by state creation of regional voter protection infrastructure with dedicated staff, said Perez, “to proactively monitor and fight voting issues – from unjust voter ID laws to gerrymandering, to limiting voting locations.”
In states like North Carolina, Wisconsin and especially Kansas, laws have been enacted to require forms of proof of residency, citizenship and more that have the effect of disenfranchising millions of legal voters because they lack documents, are too elderly to understand what is being demanded, or are unfamiliar with how to get past the reams of official red tape.
The Vice Chairman of Trump’s commission (which is headed by VP Mike Pence) is Kris W. Kobach, who as Secretary of State in Kansas, has “championed the strictest voter identification laws in the country,” reports the New York Times
This has very much been a Republican effort to discourage likely Democratic voters and it has been effective from Florida to Texas and beyond; so this DNC effort is needed and important.
The reality is too few Americans bother to vote at all, which also helps the rich entrenched Republicans. If the DNC efforts actually encourage more Americans to the exercise their right to vote, it will return a level playing field to the American democracy on election day.
The members of the new Democratic commission will include Terri Sewell of Alabama as Vice Chairman, Rep. Gwen Moore of Wisconsin, Rep. JoaquinCastro of Texas, Rep. Grace Meng of New York, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes of Kentucky, Secretary of State Alex Padilla of California, Attorney General Maura Healey of Massachusetts, Attorney General Karl Racine of the District of Columbia, Speaker of the Colorado House Crisanta Duran, State Senator Karen Carter Peterson of Louisiana and Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes.