Like many other progressives, I cheered the announcement that Trump had disbanded his commission on voter fraud. Not that I think voter fraud is a great thing, I just didn’t agree with the commission using fake data and rumors to achieve its end goal which was to disenfranchise voters likely to push the button for Democrats. Then Trump made the casual comment that he was going to place the commission’s task under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Very casually, as in: I just closed the commission because uh it wasn’t getting anywhere and oh by the way, I’ll just place it in DHS and uh maybe they can do something…. who knows – that kind of casual.
At the same time, in the back of my mind, I’ve stashed away a question that I have yet been able to answer that might be related. It also happens to be a question that the great scholarly mind, Sarah Kendzior has been asking lately: Why are Republicans not afraid their tax cuts for the rich will hurt them in future elections? Like Kendzior, I don’t believe that Republicans think their donors will protect them. No matter how much money they give them, it is we who push the button. I also don’t believe that Americans will just forget about it come 2018 or 2020. If the tax cuts go as planned, most Americans will see an increase and they will either lose their healthcare or see huge increases in premiums.
I suppose Russia could rig the elections again but as yet, we have no definitive proof that they manipulated vote totals in the 2016 Election (though I believe that is just a matter of time). Plus, Republicans should be thinking that they might not be able to rely on their Russian friends because of the multiple investigations. They, like everyone else, have no idea where any of those cases will end up.
The only sure way for them to secure the 2018 and 2020 votes would be through voter suppression. Thus far, their experiments in many red states have met with mixed success on the voter ID side and failure on the gerrymandering side where courts have deemed their laws illegal. It would only make sense to push the voter ID concept and try to make it federal, which explains why Republican senators are quickly stuffing the courts with pro-voter ID judges.
REAL ID Act
In February 2016, a fellow Twitter user (@Evan_Halperin) and follower of mine contacted me and asked that I look into the REAL ID program. Thanks to Evan, that suggestion turned into my second published article for Crooks and Liars. REAL ID is a federal ID program that requires all states to comply with storing your records (birth certificates, licenses, marriage, divorce and adoption certificates, etc.). They claim REAL ID will not be used for voting, yet they require states to prove your citizenship. In the article, I surmised that Republicans would use the REAL ID program to disenfranchise liberal voters, and thus win the 2018 and 2020 elections. This is still my concern.
So far, half of the states have complied. In order for Republicans to get every state to comply with REAL ID, they attempted to show that voter fraud was prevalent. If the feds could prove states were doing an insufficient job of combatting voter fraud and then use the hacking as proof that those election systems were compromised, voting would become a national security issue and they could justify forcing a national registry for voting through REAL ID.
That was the point of the presidential commission: to find enough voter fraud to justify the need for the feds to take over. The only problem was that there’s never been proof of rampant voter fraud. The only evidence they had was the same right-wing nut job claims they had before. Here are a few examples of what Republicans on the commission claimed as evidence. Links to their presentations are attached to their names:
- John Lott – of the Crime Prevention Research Center whose board members include Ted Nugent and Sheriff David Clarke (because these two morons are voter fraud experts); used data from the American Center for Voting Rights that was disbanded and erased from the web in 2007 for providing fake data. Lott was “caught pushing studies with severe statistical errors on numerous occasions.”
- Hons von Spakovsky – Heritage Foundation; used disproven stats from the Government Accountability Institute (GAI) which is owned by Rebekah Mercer and Steve Bannon. Meant to look like the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to bolster authenticity.
- Ken Block – Simpatico Systems; Republican who developed program software to identify social welfare fraud. Hopes his software will be used to identify voter fraud.
- Kimball Brace – company has helped Republicans learn how to rework their districts (gerrymandering).
- J. Christian Adams – Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF); has been on Fox News and written for Breitbart, National Review and Washington Examiner. Their data and conclusions have been found to be false.
- Robert D. Popper – Election Integrity Project; Judicial Watch, Dailey Caller writer.
- Kris Kobach – Kansas Secretary of State; hoped to have his Interstate Crosscheck program used federally although it has been proven to illegally kick voters off rolls for having similar names.
Contrary to Trump’s statement that he was disbanding the commission because liberal organizations were making it impossible for them to do their work, they were disbanded because they refused to hear any other testimony other than those that would support their agenda regardless of the fact that most of that data had been proven false. There was no way the Democrats on the commission were going to agree with the Republicans. The commission was doomed to fail. Instead of having it fail, Trump would rather pull the plug and blame the Democrats.
Thanks to Evan
After Trump’s announcement, Evan tweeted the following to remind me about REAL ID and that it is administered under DHS:
Trump is now saying that we need a voter ID for voting, so ensure that people don't vote illegally. What he really means is keeping those that have a harder time GETTING an ID from actually voting.
— Evan (@Evan_Halperin) January 4, 2018
You should follow the thread he attached to that tweet. Evan’s right! With the Voter Fraud Commission under DHS, voting now becomes a national security issue. They would have access to all of the various data kept: immigration lists, national criminal databases, parolees, 4th waivers, etc. Also under DHS, they could deem their methods secret. States will lose control of their constitutional powers and will no longer be able to protect their citizens’ voting rights.
REAL ID under Trump
The only change in the REAL ID website since Trump took over is this paragraph:
“DHS is committed to enforcing the REAL ID Act in accordance with the phased enforcement schedule and regulatory timeframes and is not inclined to grant additional extensions to any states that are not both committed to achieving full compliance and making substantial and documented progress in satisfying any unmet requirements. It has been 12 years since the REAL ID Act was passed and half of all the states have already met the REAL ID minimum standards. It is time that the remaining jurisdictions turn their commitments to secure identification into action.”
He’s talking to you California and New York. In other words, if your state doesn’t meet the deadline set by the Trump administration, your f*cked. Without a REAL ID, you won’t be able to fly, ride a train, marry, divorce, rent a hotel room or car, drive…and I predict you won’t be able to vote. That is why I think the Republicans are not worried about hurting their constituents. They will be choosing who votes and who doesn’t.
Think I’m wrong? Let’s hope I am and that the big blue wave is as strong as we think it is. But then why did Trump make the extension deadline for states to get on board with REAL ID October 10, 2018 just before the November elections? Right now, the website states voting is not affected, but that will change. Perhaps their incompetence will save 2018, and they won’t be able to get it together in time. Sure enough, Trump has already started pushing for a national ID.
Welcome to the Trump Reich. Papers please.