Republican jackass took people’s rights away and now he wants to do it again
by Daniel Kelley
A PhD candidate’s thesis would say:
Kris Kobach, the secretary of state of Kansas implemented a policy in 2011 which disenfranchised 14% of new registration applicants by changing voter registration requirements.
Real people would say:
Another Republican jackass successfully took away the right to vote from 35,000 Kansans in less than two years.
Under Kobach’s anti-democratic policy, deceptively called the Safe and Fair Elections Act, citizens applying to register suddenly needed to present physical proof of citizenship, specifically a birth certificate or passport. Further, citizens needed to show a valid ID at the actual polling booth to be allowed to cast a ballot. But wait! It gets so much worse:
Citizens who failed to do either of these were placed on a list of suspended voters. Suspended.
I didn’t have a passport until I was 21 years old. In landlocked, working class, unlikely-to-take-a-European-vacaton Kansas, you can guess that it was poor and minority citizens who were disproportionately affected by Kobach’s requirements. It is no wonder why civil rights groups against the Safe and Fair Elections Act likened it to the poll tax of the Jim Crow-era, which also successfully barred thousands of black citizens from voting.
This law remained in effect until it was found to be in violation of the 1993 National Voter Registration Act NVRA (AKA motor-voter: it’s the reason you really only need your driver’s license to register to vote in most places in US). It was rightfully overturned by a 10th Circuit court in 2016, having caused a “mass denial of a fundamental constitutional right.” (Drop your arguments of partisanship, that was a W. Bush appointee that wrote that). Of course, Kobach appealed to a higher court in the hopes of rolling the dice again on his draconian policy.
Kobach is the textbook Republican:
He’s been able to pursue his oppressive agenda by pushing the narrative of rampant voter fraud and fomenting rumors of millions of people voting illegally. You’ll probably recall a certain soundbite from a certain Twitter account in November 2016.
It’s not a coincidence: Kris Kobach is probably the reason Trump tweeted that little demonstration of lunacy after the election. That may be pure speculation, but there’s a reason why Kobach emailed Trump the day after the election about an amendment to the NVRA. In any case, Kobach himself has admitted during depositions over the restrictive Kansas policies that he has discussed amending the NVRA since starting in Trump’s admin.
There was zero proof to back up Trump’s claims then, just as there was no proof to validate Kobach’s implementation of the Safe and Fair Elections Act in years prior. This might not be as big of a deal if it were only one state attempting to impose this policy.
But now this shit is national.
Shortly after the November 20th meeting, Kris Kobach was appointed as the de facto head of Trump’s election commission, the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity (PACEI). In a display of paranoia of which only he is capable, Trump assembled this council expressly to examine voter fraud in American elections. In other words: in lieu of a good reason to take people’s rights away, make one up.
As the vice chair of the PACEI, Kobach will have the greatest possible ability to manipulate federal election policy to advance his disenfranchisement-obsessed agenda. For someone tapped to restore “confidence” in American elections, Kobach seems dead-set on provoking distrust.
This is yet another example of letting the fox to guard the henhouse. See: How Scott Pruitt Undermines the EPA’s Mission and Betsy DeVos’s bizarre list of priorities for the Department of Education (spoiler: it does not include education).
If I’m not being clear about the danger here, let me be put it simply:
A member of Trump’s administration is aiming to take away the right to vote from as many Americans as possible, by whatever means necessary. And he is in the prime position to do so.
Republicans know full well that Americans have become thoroughly disillusioned with our electoral system. Prop up even one major obstacle to the voting booth and huge swaths of citizens will turn around and go home. A requirement to bring your passport to the post office to register might not seem like enough to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of legal citizens, but as the electoral shitshow in Kansas has demonstrated, this simple scheme is more than enough to undermine our democracy.