MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
If you think that Trump's Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is an effort for him to try and prove that Hillary's 2016 popular vote victory of approximately three million votes was due to fraudulent voters, you are probably wrong. The demand of the infamous vice chair, former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, for every state to turn over details of their voter rolls is possibly an attempt to capture the invaluable data for use by Republicans and Trump in upcoming elections.
The commission can't realistically be an attempt to reduce voter fraud, since voter fraud is an infinitesimal occurrence in the United States, as BuzzFlash has reported in the past. In January of this year, the Brennan Center for Justice published a study, "Debunking the Voter Fraud Myth," that concluded:
Most reported incidents of voter fraud are actually traceable to other sources, such as clerical errors or bad data matching practices. [Our] report reviewed elections that had been meticulously studied for voter fraud, and found incident rates between 0.0003 percent and 0.0025 percent. Given this tiny incident rate for voter impersonation fraud, it is more likely, the report noted, that an American “will be struck by lightning than that he will impersonate another voter at the polls.”
After all, with modern sweeping data collection and pinpointing of voters for either party a reality, the information, if collected, will be a gold mine at the Trump team's disposal and a staggering advantage to Trump in his manipulation of democracy. Greg Palast has just pointed out in a July 4 advisory that despite protests by many Republican states, Kobach already has a good deal of the information through a national voter suppression project called Interstate Crosscheck that he oversaw as Kansas secretary of state, using state voter registration data provided to him by other Republican secretaries of state. Palast writes:
After a national outcry, 44 states claim they are refusing the request of Kobach, the Vice-Chair of The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, to provide him with a list of all voters, party affiliations, last four digits of social security numbers, and more. However, many of these states, in fact, the majority of Republican controlled states have already shared these detailed voter files with Kobach in his capacity as Secretary of State of Kansas under terms which allow him to use this information in his dual federal role.
Kobach is continuing a strategy that goes back to the stolen 2000 presidential election, when then Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris hired a firm then called ChoicePoint to purge as many minority voters as possible through a highly flawed alleged list of felons. Among other tactics from then Governor Jeb Bush's control over the state election apparatus, the error-riddled ChoicePoint purge may have resulted in enough denied votes to guarantee George W. Bush the narrowest of victories in the Sunshine State as decided by the Supreme Court.
While conventional wisdom in the corporate mainstream media is continually labeling Kobach's commission as a way of assuaging Trump's bruised ego and sense of legitimacy, in reality it has all the appearances of a continuation of Interstate Crosscheck on a federally sanctioned level. In his July 4 advisory, Palast recalls a 2016 Rolling Stone article in which he found that despite Mississippi's GOP Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann declaiming that he would not turn over the state's voter files, Hosemann already had given them to Kobach:
The Mississippi voter files -- and files from 27 other states -- were turned over to the Trump operative as part of Kobach’s secretive program called "Interstate Crosscheck" -- also designed to prove that millions of Americans are registered in two states intending to vote twice in one election, a crime.
Louisiana’s GOP Secretary of State Tom Schedler, claimed that he would not, and has never turned over the, "incredible amount of voter data that I have, time and time again, refused to release." In fact, records obtained from the Kansas Secretary of State showed that Schedler had turned over nearly three million voter files to Kobach earlier this year, including birth dates and Social Security information.
The Palast Investigative Fund investigation for Rolling Stone uncovered the lists -- which means they are hardly secure. In operation, according to the experts working with Palast and Rolling Stone, "Crosscheck" has been used to purge innocent voters of color in Georgia, Mississippi, Michigan and two dozen states.
Therefore, Kobach is more than halfway to meeting his goal of building a federal database of voters for 50 states. Remember that constitutionally, maintenance and administration of voter rolls and rights are delegated to the states. If Kobach succeeds, he will have information that in the past he has used to remove valid voters from the polls rather than to eliminate almost non-existent voter fraud.
On Fox TV and other outlets, Kobach has said he is out to prove his claim that millions of Americans have committed the crime of voting twice and that one million illegal aliens voted....
More important, this information will be used to recommend changes to the National Voter Registration Act and propose "list purging" systems to remove illegal voters.
It is, by the way, not illegal to be registered to vote in two locations. Many wealthy people vote in a national election in one residential location and in local elections that are not concurrent in another state. In fact, The New York Times posted an article that "some in Trump's inner circle" are registered to vote in two places, including Steve Bannon. The idea that many people are voting twice in the same election in two different places is not borne out in factual evidence. In general, it is implausible that many people could achieve such a thing across state lines, and even more implausible that many would be motivated to vote twice in the same election and commit fraud.
Greg Palast is spot-on in warning the US public of the dangers lurking in the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Time will tell, but given the threat of GOP voter data consolidation under the aegis of official government business, the commission's work appears to threaten voting rights and a robust democracy.