This continued voter-fraud rhetoric is damaging people’s belief in the electoral process, and that is a very perilous path to tread.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach and his company of voter-fraud-conspiracy theorists met for the second time last week ostensibly to discuss historical turnout, public confidence and electronic voting systems. In reality, they trotted out panel after panel of “expert” witnesses, made up entirely of white men (a group that has never faced barriers to voting), to make the case for voter ID and other laws that will inevitably disenfranchise voters.
One particularly egregious presentation was given by Dr. John Lott of the Crime Prevention Research Center. Relying on data from 1996 to 2004, Lott made the case that citizens should have a thorough background check — like the one used for purchasing a firearm — in order to vote. Leaving aside how ridiculous that analogy is, we are already regularly checking many different data sources to keep our voter rolls up-to-date.
We verify voter information through sources such as the United States Social Security Administration, state Department of Licensing, Department of Corrections, King County Vital Statistics, the United States Postal Service, obituaries, and many others. We are part of a 21-state consortium called the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) that matches voter registration data and helps states update their databases when people move.
All background checks would do is create another barrier to voting, which is clearly what the commission members are after.
It is apparent that the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity was established not to seek the truth with an open mind but to run with preconceived narratives and cherry-picked evidence that validates its own conclusions. This isn’t just misguided, it’s dangerous.
The foundation of our democracy is public confidence in the systems that allow us to make decisions as a community. Having been down the path of broken trust, King County Elections knows this all too well. After painstakingly rebuilding and slowly re-establishing faith, we ultimately came out a stronger organization and are now a leader in the field.
I can tell you from experience that this continued voter-fraud rhetoric is damaging people’s belief in the electoral process and that is a very perilous path to tread — one that we as a society can ill afford to travel right now.
There is zero evidence that voter fraud is an issue in Washington state or the country at large. Even Kobach, who has initiated hundreds of investigations into voter fraud in Kansas, has achieved fewer than a dozen convictions and has had his egregious assertions of fraud proved wrong over and over again.
We have to stop creating suspicion where there isn’t cause for any. We have to stop accusing voters of crimes there isn’t any evidence they’ve committed. Instead, let’s spend our time encouraging people to use their voice and participate in decisions that impact their community.
I hope you will join me in calling this commission what it is — a blatant effort to suppress turnout and disenfranchise voters.