A voter commission led by Vice President Mike Pence is requesting that states submit personal records of voters dating back to 2006 – a move that some believe could be laying the groundwork for new voter suppression laws.
According to a June 28 letter to Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach – who serves as vice chairman for Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity – the commission is requesting full names, addresses, birth dates and Social Security numbers, as well as voting history, for all registered voters in the state.
According to the letter, the information will be made public.
Kobach, who remains one of the few lawmakers who still believes that millions of people voted illegally in 2016, was recently fined by a federal magistrate for making “patently misleading representations” in a lawsuit brought by the ACLU over a law he enacted in Kansas requiring voters to submit proof of citizenship prior to registration. According to the ACLU, it has brought four suits against Kobach’s voter suppression policies and has won each time.
Merrill said she would comply with the request, but said that Kobach’s history of voter suppression makes it “difficult to have confidence in the work of this commission.”
According to a press release from the Office of the Vice President, a similar letter was sent to each secretary of state in the U.S.
The Pence-led commission was created to investigate the unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud repeatedly made by Trump during and after his presidential campaign, but some voter rights watchdogs believe the commission is merely the first step in a nationwide wave of voter suppression – especially considering Trump, whose 2020 reelection campaign is already underway, lost the popular vote by nearly 2.9 million votes.
— Vanita Gupta (@vanitaguptaCR) June 29, 2017
This is not a voter integrity commission, but one designed to suppress votes. States should refuse to participate https://t.co/kFFJPL9Wgj
— Ari Berman (@AriBerman) June 29, 2017
Pence’s claim that the commission is “bipartisan” is dubious, as there were only two Democratic secretaries of state – from New Hampshire and Maine, where Republicans control at least one house of legislature in each state – among the initial seven appointees.