Voting is for White People: The Origins of Crosscheck

Image by Charlie Potter

It’s been a long time since the White House has been this white.

The Trump Administration is funded, directed by and comprised of a network of unapologetic racists and white supremacists including Robert Mercer, Stephen Bannon, Steve Miller, Seb Gorka, Jeff Sessions, and Kris Kobach. These men represent just the tip of a very white iceberg.

And while there has never been a time when the federal government was not operating under the influence of White Power, there are times in which white supremacy has made giant leaps in their progress to legislatively and politically advance their agenda. This is one of them.

The Trump administration has brought with it a threat of white nationalism this nation has not experienced since the Golden Era of Eugenics and the Rise of Nazi Germany in the early 20th Century.

Eugenics, US Politics and Nazis

Born of the notion that the white race is superior to all other races and that all steps necessary should be taken to preserve that advantage, eugenic theory and political strategy is equally balanced by the idea that people of color and people living with disabilities are inferior and that every effort to remove them from the genetic and social gene pool should be aggressively pursued.

The term “eugenics” itself was coined in 1883 by Francis Galton, the cousin of Charles Darwin, and defined as “the science which deals with all influences that improve the inborn qualities of race; also with those that develop them to the utmost advantage.”

Eugenic theory immediately gained a foothold in scientific and political fields across the nation. Funded by power players such as the Carnegies and the Rockefellers, Eugenics laboratories and research centers were opened in universities across the nation. Their research was used to promote the passage of legislation geared at cleansing the nation of minorities including immigrants, people of color and people living with disabilities. So powerful were these efforts, they were adopted by white nationalists across the globe. Most notably, they were celebrated and formally adopted by Adolph Hitler and Nazi Germany.

Compulsory sterilization programs and the legislation used to spread them across the country, for example, were designed by American eugenicists, spread across the nation through conservative reform organizations, borrowed by German eugenicists, and celebratorily adopted by the Nazi party.

In 1926, a leading eugenicist by the name of Harry Laughlin co-founded the American Eugenics Society (AES). That same year, he published a piece called Eugenical Sterilization in the United States. Advocating for the sterilization of those deemed genetically unfit, Laughlin outlined a legal argument in favor of the passage of compulsory sterilization laws and provided an piece of sample legislations that could be used by states that wanted to adopt the practice. In the 15 years before Eugenical Sterilization in the United States was published, 12 states had passed compulsory sterilization laws. In the few years following Laughlin’s publication, 18 states passed legislation modeled after his sample — and over 60,000 Americans were eugenically sterilized against their will.

The model law was so successful, it caught the attention of Nazis in Germany. They would go on to pass their own compulsory sterilization law in 1933 based on Laughlin’s model and used it to forcefully sterilize 350,000 German citizens. For his part, Laughlin was awarded with an honorary doctorate from Heidelberg University in Germany in 1936 for his work on the “science of racial cleansing.”

Harry Laughlin co-found the Pioneer Fund the following year.

Mutating from AES into FAIR

Now boasting such donors as Charles and David Koch, the Pioneer Fund is currently one of the largest and most powerful donors to political eugenics and white nationalism in the United States. Through the Pioneer Fund, the torch of eugenic policy was passed from the American Eugenic Society to the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR.

FAIR was founded in 1979 by a renowned nativist and white nationalist by the name of John Tanton. Described as an “anti-immigration crusader” and “a strict a nativist who once wrote a paper titled ‘The Case for Passive Eugenics,’” Tanton openly professes the virtues of white supremacy and its importance in American policy. He argues, “I’ve come to the point of view that for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that.”

Tanton has been closely associated with members of the Klu Klux Klan, worked vigilantly against bilingualism, steers the white supremacist publication the Social Contract Press and published a formal article that asserts,

“To govern is to populate … Will the present majority peaceably hand over its political power to a group that is simply more fertile? … As Whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night? Or will there be an explosion?”

He was perfect for a role at the head of FAIR who’s goals include the explicit assumption that “Reducing legal immigration from well over one million presently, to 300,000 a year over a sustained period will allow America to more sensibly manage its growth, address its environmental needs, and maintain a high quality of life. To make that happen, we work for policies that put the interests of American citizens ahead of big business and special interests demands.”

In other words, FAIR’s goal is to eliminate immigrants and put America First. Sound familiar?

During the Reagan Era, FAIR incorporated the Immigration Law Reform Institute (ILRI) into its organizational structure and positioned it as the legal arm of FAIR. According to the ILRI website,

“Founded in 1986, the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) serves as a public-interest legal education and advocacy law firm, and supporting organization of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).

Our Mission

IRLI exists to defend the rights of individual Americans and their local communities from the harms and challenges posed by mass migration to the United States, both lawful and unlawful, to monitor and hold accountable federal, state, or local government officials who undermine, fail to respect, or comply with our national immigration and citizenship laws, and to provide expert immigration-related legal advice, training, and resources to public officials, the legal community, and the general public.

Our Vision

Our vision is a nation where our borders are secure, the American people are no longer disadvantaged and harmed by the deleterious effects of unlawful immigration, and legal immigration levels are set at a rate consistent with the national interest.”

One of the ILRI’s most active and prized lawyers is Kris Kobach. He is also the person responsible for purging over 1 million minority voters from the system just before the 2016 election.

Cleansing the Vote by Purging Black and Brown Voters

A former fellow at the White House under Attorney General John Ashcroft and a professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Law School, Kobach had been making a name for himself in the early 2000s by promoting the use of trespassing laws against immigrants, encouraging local police to act as immigration enforcement officers and attempting to prevent immigrants from receiving in-state tuition. He had also spent a great deal of effort promoting voter caging, a strategic predecessor and often accompaniment to voter purging. He also gained notoriety by calling for military intervention at the border with Mexico at the 2004 Republican National Convention, during a failed run for a GOP seat in Congress.

For his efforts, Kobach was given the resources, connections, and authority to launch the Interstate Crosscheck System the following year. Elections in the United States would never be the same again.

According to Health of State Democracies,

“The Interstate Crosscheck system is a database used by officials…to identify voters potentially registered to vote in more than one state. States need a mechanism to maintain accurate voter rolls, but the states participating in the Interstate Crosscheck system risk purging legally registered voters — with a significant oversampling from communities of color — from the voting lists.

The system flagged roughly 7 million names of “potential double voters” prior to the 2014 election; however, since 2014, not a single person has been convicted of double voting pursuant to Crosscheck data.”

(To learn more about Crosscheck, read additional articles by SIIP and leading Crosscheck expert Greg Palast)

Crosscheck was strategically implemented by targeting Secretaries of State to adopt and implement the program. Through a signed Memorandum of Understanding, first network of Crosscheck states included Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa. With the geographical heart of the United States under contract, the first voter purge was performed in 2006, and in 2007, Kobach was rewarded with a position as the Chair of the Kansas Republican Party.

In 2010, Kobach passed Arizona SB 1070, which has also been termed the “most racist law in modern American history.” This law, passed in Arizona, gave police the authority to demand proof of citizenship from anyone they suspect of being undocumented. It also granted authorities the right to stop, detain and jail citizens and non-citizens alike for not carrying the required paperwork. By election season of that same year, 13 states had signed on to the Interstate Crosscheck System.

And by the end of the 2010 elections, the Republican party had taken over the House of Representatives. For his part, Kobach was rewarded with a position as Kansas Secretary of State — a position he still holds today. By the 2014 elections, the number of Crosscheck states had exploded to 27 — over half of the states in the nation. And that year, the Republican Party took full control of Congress.

As the 2016 elections closed in on the nation, 30 states were contracted into the interstate crosscheck system, 7.2 million voters identified for purging and approximately 1.1 million voters were successfully purged, the GOP kept control of Congress and Donald Trump overthrew the White House.

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.”

While Kobach intends to remain in Kansas where he is considering a run for governor, he continues to advance his career and the agenda of both white nationalism and the Federation for American Immigration Reform. Kobach has served as an advisor to Donald Trump on issues such as voter fraud, the border wall, and the Muslim Ban.

The Interstate Crosscheck System remains intact. And the GOP prepares to cleanse millions of minorities from the voter rolls in the 2018 mid-term elections, where they will likely retain control of Congress — unless something is done to enforce the minority right to vote and dismantle Crosscheck.

While the threat to “Vote Them Out” has been used as a mantra to threaten the GOP to counter their political advancement, #TheResistance has yet to address or counter the deprivation of minority voting rights that allows the Crosscheck system to remain in place. White power advances by suppressing and removing minority rights. In order to stop them, these rights must be restored and programs like Crosscheck must be eliminated.

To find out how, click here.

SIIP is dedicated to designing strategies to counter political obstacles faced by the most brutally targeted communities in the United States