StrategyCamp
7 min readJul 6, 2017

No, 44 States Didn’t Reject Kris Kobach’s Request for Voter Data. And that is Terrifying.

Image Courtesy of Photopin

There’s a deeply disturbing pattern coming out of the left wing corporate media and the Democratic party this week.

Publications such as NBCNews, CNN, and The Washington Post are misinforming the public about state responses to Kris Kobach and his Commission on Election Integrity’s request for voter information from all 50 states. What’s more alarming is that a number of Secretaries of State are making the media rounds gaining exposure for reinforcing this false narrative.

For example, with headlines such as “Forty-four States Refuse to Give Voter Data to Trump Panel,” “Forty-four states and DC have refused to give certain voter information to Trump commission,” and “Why almost every state is partially or fully rebuffing Trump’s election commission,the media is painting a picture of Secretaries of State have all but fully united to protect their constituents voting rights.

To bolster and benefit from this illusion, Secretaries of State from across the country are making public statements against Kobach’s call for information. Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D), for example, has been an outspoken critic of Kobach’s request for information making statements such as, “There’s not enough bourbon here in Kentucky to make this request seem sensible. Not on my watch are we going to be releasing sensitive information that relate to the privacy of individuals.”

Apparently, there is enough bourbon for her to continue to participate in Kris Kobach’s Interstate Crosscheck System purged over 1 million minority voters just prior to the 2016 election, though.

And Grimes is not drinking alone.

The overwhelming majority of states being credited for taking a stand against voter suppression are participants in Crosscheck. And contrary to the mainstream narrative, the overwhelming majority of states being credited for taking a stand against Kobach will actually be turning voter information over to him as their state laws allow.

Why is this a problem?

Crosscheck uses first and last names to identify individuals that may be registered in more than one state so that they can be purged from voter rolls. Participating states can share information with each other, and Kobach negotiates the contracts across state lines.

As a result, James Michael Washington in Kentucky could be purged if his name is crossed with James Curtis Washington in Pennsylvania. Similarly, Juan Jose Hernandez can be purged if crossed with Juan Carlos Hernandez. A more detailed report on the specifics of Crosscheck written by Greg Palast describes:

“Mark Swedlund, a database expert whose clients include eBay and American Express, looked at the data from Georgia and Virginia, and he was shocked…. Swedlund’s statistical analysis found that African-American, Latino and Asian names predominate, a simple result of the Crosscheck matching process, which spews out little more than a bunch of common names. No surprise: The U.S. Census data shows that minorities are overrepresented in 85 of 100 of the most common last names. If your name is Washington, there’s an 89 percent chance you’re African-American. If your last name is Hernandez, there’s a 94 percent chance you’re Hispanic. If your name is Kim, there’s a 95 percent chance you’re Asian.
This inherent bias results in an astonishing one in six Hispanics, one in seven Asian-Americans and one in nine African-Americans in Crosscheck states landing on the list.”

Through this system, and under the guise of preventing voter fraud, the GOP was able to eliminate 1.1 million mostly black and brown voters from registration rolls just prior to the 2016 election. This may seem like a marginally significant number of votes in total, but applied strategically, Crosscheck enables the GOP to target key counties and states for targeted purging. As previously reported by SIIP:

“Without voter purging in key states, Donald Trump likely would not have won the 2016 presidential election. In Arizona, Trump probably would not have been able to secure the state’s 11 electoral votes without purging almost 271,000 voters. The difference between candidates in this state is approximately 85,000. In Michigan, the difference between candidates vying for the state’s 16 electoral votes was well under 11,000 — almost 450,000 voters had been purged. And in North Carolina, Trump won 15 electoral votes by approximately 177,000 votes. Close to 600,000 votes had to be purged from the system to accomplish this.”

Purging is not Kobach’s only specialty, though.

The Vice Chair of the Commission on Election Integrity also designs and diffuses more generalized voter suppression tactics such as voter ID restriction policies through his interstate systems. The success of his work has led to 21 million eligible voters being denied their Constitutional right to vote because of lack of ID during the 2016 election.

He and the GOP also promote additional voter suppression tactics including felony disenfranchisement, absentee ballot restrictions and polling place closures which have prevented 20–30 million more voters from casting ballots.

As such, it should be no surprise that the information Kobach is requesting from all 50 states includes

“…full first and last names of all registrants, middle names or initials if available,

addresses, dates of birth, political party (if recorded in your state), last four digits of social security number if available, voter history (elections voted in) from 2006 onward, active/inactive status, cancelled status, information regarding any felony convictions, information regarding voter registration in another state, information regarding military status, and overseas citizen information.”

The surprise is that neither the media nor the Democrats are willing to recognize that ANY information turned over to Kobach can and will be used against black and brown voters. The surprise is that reporters and politicians aren’t sounding the alarm for people and politicians to take immediate action to fully block Kobach, the GOP and their efforts to rig every single election in the foreseeable future — with or without Russia — through nationwide deprivation of voting rights.

While the media and politicians would like the public to believe that 44 states are taking a stand against voter suppression and Kobach’s Commission on Election Integrity, only 16 have refused to turn over any information while 30 are complying with the request to turn over whatever information they can make legally available. 4 are still weighing their decision.

Of the 16 that have refused, 7 states are already sharing information through Kobach’s Interstate Crosscheck System. Of the 30 states that have agreed to give limited information, 22 already participate in Crosscheck.

What does this mean? The overwhelming majority of states are sharing some, but not all, information with Kobach’s Commission directly in response to his request — or indirectly through their participation in Crosscheck.

The question is then, why are the states and the media failing to warn the voting public and opting to spin a false narrative of voter protection?

If these states and their Secretaries were taking a stand for voting rights against Kobach, they would immediately drop themselves from Crosscheck, repeal their voter ID restrictions and take Kobach to court for criminal violations of Sections 2 and 11 of the Voting Rights Act which read:

‘No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision to deny or abridge the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.’

and

No person acting under color of law shall fail or refuse Prohibitions to permit any person to vote who is entitled to vote under any provision of this Act or is otherwise qualified to vote, or willfully fail or refuse to tabulate, count, and report such person’s vote’

Instead they are lying to the public, refusing to take action to counter voter suppression tactics and trying to take credit as Civil Rights hero’s;

No actions have been taken to bring Kobach, Crosscheck and Voter ID laws to court under the Voting Rights Act. No efforts have been taken by the Secretaries of State to remove themselves from their voter purging and suppression agreements with Kris Kobach. No efforts have been formally organized to re-enfranchise the tens of millions of voters denied their Constitutional right to voter as a result of Kobach and the GOP’s practices.

Yet almost inexplicably, the political messaging being aimed at the left is “Relax. Everything’s fine. We’ve got it covered.”

Everything. Is. Not. Fine.

In order to stop Kobach, Trump and the GOP’s successful deprivation of rights maneuvers and do the work to re-enfranchise tens of millions of black, brown, poor, and disabled voters — the Voting Rights Act must be enforced through the federal circuit and district courts. Currently, though, there are no nationwide Democratic efforts to end voter suppression or counter the work of Trump’s Commission on Election Integrity.

Unless the deception and inaction ends, tens of millions of voters will continue to be deprived of their rights to vote and tens of millions more will be added to their ranks, Kris Kobach will be able to rig future elections for the GOP with or without the help of Russia, the nation will continue to crumble into a white nationalist Russian puppeted Confederacy and the Democrats will likely never win an election in the foreseeable future.

Until black, brown, poor, and disabled voters are re-enfranchised, the Democratic party will continue to lose election after election. But if they actively refuse to defend their Constituent’s most basic rights- perhaps that is an outcome they deserve. It is an outcome, though, the people cannot afford.

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