May 14, 2017

It's really interesting to me to see all the post-mortems of the 2016 election that center the entire devastating loss to Donald Trump to white working class voters, specifically white men.

Not that they shouldn't own their embrace of a candidate who was clearly not prepared for the responsibilities of the office and showed signs of serious mental incapacity before the election. But it also ignores a more insidious narrative.

I know it's hard to imagine this, but the voters that comprise the base of the Democratic Party are POC and women, not the white working class. And in the face of someone who spent so much time demonizing POC, you better believe they were motivated to vote for Hillary Clinton.

And yet, black and Hispanic voter turnout was down in 2016, the first time in 20 years.

This wasn't voter apathy. This was the result of decades-long campaign to suppress the vote in the name of voter fraud. In fact in Wisconsin, some 200,000 voters were prevented from voting, in a state that Trump won by less than 23,000 votes.

The study compared turnout in states that adopted strict voter-ID laws between 2012 and 2016, like Wisconsin, to states that did not.

While states with no change to voter identification laws witnessed an average increased turnout of +1.3% from 2012 to 2016, Wisconsin’s turnout (where voter ID laws changed to strict) dropped by -3.3%. If turnout had instead increased by the national no-change average, we estimate that over 200,000 more voters would have voted in Wisconsin in 2016.

This reduction in turnout particularly hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

The lost voters skewed more African-American and more Democrat. For example, Wisconsin’s 2016 electorate was 6.1% more Republican, and 5.7% less Democrat, than the group of ‘lost voters’. Furthermore, the WI electorate was 3.7% more White and 3.8% less African American than the group of ‘lost voters.’ This analysis suggests that the 200,000 lost voters would have both been more racially diverse and have voted more Democratic.

So while the mainstream media wrings their hands to figure out how to win back white working class male voters, they ignore the systematic elimination of the more reliable Democratic voter. Isn't that special?

And 2018 may be even worse. Though conventional political science says that mid-terms tend to be terrible for the party who holds the White House, the Trump administration has a plan. Trump announced this week the hiring of Kris Kobach to head his voter fraud investigation. But make no mistake, Kobach's version of "election integrity" is all about making sure that traditionally Democratic votes get suppressed.

The ACLU’s Voting Rights Project has a long history with Kris Kobach. Tell us about it. In a democracy, you can either compete for these votes or you can try to suppress them. The latter is Mr. Kobach’s strategy.

Ho: Kris Kobach is the king of voter suppression. He has an obsession with trying to show that there is widespread cheating in our elections when there isn’t. In Kansas, he’s instituted a “Show Me Your Papers” law which requires people to show a birth certificate or passport when they register to vote. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, in a unanimous opinion by Judge Jerome Holmes, who was appointed by George W. Bush, found that Kobach had engaged in “mass denial of a fundamental right” by blocking 18,000 motor voter applicants from registering to vote.

After he was ordered to fix that problem, Kobach said fine, I’ll let those voters vote in federal elections, but I’m not going to let them vote in state and local elections. We had to go back into court and this time, a state judge said Kobach had no authority to separate Kansas’ election system into a bizarre two-tiered system where some people could vote for president, but not governor. Kobach tried to justify these laws by saying that there is widespread voter fraud. The 10th Circuit called that “pure speculation.”

In yet another case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said that Kobach had “precious little record evidence” of noncitizen voting. So this is a person who shamelessly spreads a myth of widespread voter fraud, has no evidence to back it up, and uses it as a justification for laws which suppress voting. One out of seven people who’ve tried to register in Kansas since his “Show Me Your Papers” law went into effect have been blocked from registering to vote.

It’s been a complete disaster in Kansas and it’s obvious he’s trying to replicate that disaster nationwide. It’s an effort to freeze the electorate in place. It disproportionately affects young people, people who register for the first time. Half of the people in Kansas who have been blocked by this law are under the age of 30. This is a voter suppression plot.

So at risk of hurting the feelings of those white working class voters who demand that all elections be centered around them, let us stay vigilant to the real dangers that may result in Trump staying in office even longer.

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