See ShrinkRap, June 30 for the low-down on Kobach and commission member Hans von Spakovsky. They are the leading purveyors of "voter fraud" propaganda who have been in positions to actually do harm -- Kobach as Kansas Secretary of State, now running for governor, and von Spakovsky in various positions in the Federal Elections Commission and in the Justice Departments' Civil Rights Division.
Kobach's letter sent to state Secretaries of State, asking for voters' data has already been denounced for being too intrusive and potentially violating privacy rights. But now it's also being criticized as skewed with regard to what "integrity" means in this context.
Is it the integrity of our voting laws and practices? That is the kind of integrity (or lack) that leads to restrictive voting laws, corrupt election commissions and biased court decisions, as well as those of the local election officials. Lack of such integrity can lead to voter suppression.
Or is the integrity and honesty of each individual voter's credentials that make them eligible to register and vote? That would lead to "voting fraud," the virtually non-existent problem that nevertheless drives people like Koback, von Spakovsky and Donald Trump crazy.
So we have two competing problems. One is a real problem that disenfranchises hundreds of thousands of our citizens, mostly minorities and the young and the elderly. The other lacks evidence, but generates great furor in the right-wing Republicans, which they use manipulatively to suppress the vote by those more likely to vote Democratic.
Pence and Pence have been trying to present this new commission as a neutral effort to get the facts and make recommendations to improve people's trust in the system. But Trump gave the game away with a tweet he sent out in response to some states not wanting to send data. It said: "Numerous states are refusing to give information to the very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL. What are they trying to hide?"
Either he is totally clueless -- or he just has absolutely no impulse control in calling the commission a "VOTER FRAUD PANEL" -- and in CAPS, which in twitter-language is the equivalent of shouting.
Back to Kobach's letter of request to the states. In addition to asking for voter data, he asks specific questions about problems they may have experienced in their states. He asks both about evidence of "voter intimidation and disenfranchisement" and about evidence of "voter fraud." But the overall tone of the letter leans more toward concern about illegal voting. Adding that to his reputation for an obsession with voter fraud, there's no doubt what he's fishing for.
Apparently the Commission has also asked for input from the public to send in their experiences and suggestions. Here's one response from an unnamed source:
"Now, I'm no Secretary of State, but I sure as hell am American. . . . My chief concerns?
-- A president who . . . has yet to express his opposition to Russian interference in American elections.
-- Massive purges of voter registration rolls without due process.
-- Legislators who craft gerrymandered redistricting maps enabling politicians to choose their voters rather than the reverse.
-- The Supreme Court's decision in Shelby County v Holder, gutting the protections of the Voting Rights Act under the obviously false rationale that Americas is today a post-racial society.
-- Voter suppression efforts targeted at voters of color, the working poor, and students.
-- Antiquated voting systems vulnerable to state-sponsored tampering and conveniently producing no auditable paper trails.
-- A Federal Elections Commission -- our democracy's watchdog -- that is toothless by design.
-- The Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v FEC, granting the wealthy few a louder voice in political campaigns than all other citizens combined.
-- An advisory committee on election integrity led by a notorious champion of voter suppression."
California's Alex Padilla: "I will not provide sensitive voter information to a commission that has already inaccurately passed judgment that millions of Californians voted illegally. . . California's participation would only serve to legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud made by the president, vice president, and Kobach.
Kentucky's Alison Lundergan Grimes: "Kentucky will not aid a commission that is at best a waste of taxpayer money and at worst an attempt to legitimize voter suppression efforts across the country."
Connecticut's Denise Merrill: Said she would provide data that is publicly available, but she wanted more information on what Kobach -- who "has a lengthy record of illegally disenfranchising eligible voters in Kansas" -- is looking for and why this information is essential.
Mississippi's Republican Sec. of State: "Commission members can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico.'
These responses were before the even more toxic Hans von Spakovsky came on board. See what happens when you destroy your own integrity? Donald Trump will probably act shocked at how "unfairly" his commission is being treated by the media -- failing to see that it is his own actions, and that of his appointees, that destroyed trust.