President Donald Trump, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence, center right, and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, center left, speaks during the first meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington, Wednesday, July 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Remember a few weeks ago when civility was cool? Or, had you already forgotten?
Remember the days after Rep. Steve Scalise was bleeding out at second base in Alexandria, Virginia? “Kindness builds communities.” Everyone was Mr. Rogers, glad to be your neighbor.
Not anymore. Not with the Four Horsemen of the Voter Suppression Apocalypse on the loose.
Brennan Center graphic
All it took to forget that civility was cool was for the President’s Commission on Election Integrity to hold their first meeting. I’m on that Commission, and I get to experience the ugliness and dishonesty directed at it up close.
The President’s Commission on Election Integrity is going to do what no academic, no law professor, and certainly no group funded by George Soros has been willing to do: inventory and catalog the extent of voter fraud using all available data.
Naturally, a smear campaign sprung into action as soon it was clear that the president was serious. The groups that raise money telling Americans there is no voter fraud led the effort. They have a lot to lose, so they have a lot to do. After all, if they’re wrong, their donors were had and their claim that voter fraud is a myth risks being exposed as one big lie.
President Trump flipped the script on this crowd. He inverted the risk calculations. That’s what they hate.
And hate they did.
“This not about voter fraud. This is literally about stripping the right to vote from millions of Americans,” Joya Taft-Dick of Washington, D.C., told NPR’s Pam Fessler. To them, Kris Kobach is “one of the country’s foremost architects of voter suppression.” Hans von Spakovsky is “the Dark Prince of voter alarmism” in a storyby Leon Neyfakh.
More articles than I can link to say I specialize in “disenfranchising minorities.” Never mind that I brought more cases to create minority voting districts and to protect minority language rights while I was at the Justice Department than the DOJ brought in the eight years of President Obama. I never saw any of the groups suing over the Commission helping me fight raw racial discriminationin federal court. They were selectively AWOL — but are happy to label someone as racist in a pleading.
But the hate was even spicier on Twitter:
“Racist!” is a favorite slander of the Commission foes. Kobach is a racist. Von Spakovsky is a racist. Pence is a racist. I’m a racist. Ken Blackwell is a … oh wait.
But they’ve got other slurs for Ken.
For good measure, @jennycohn1 even published Blackwell’s home address on Twitter. I’m sure Twitter will ban her right away. Oh, be careful there, loons — Ken is an NRA board member.
I’ll let you in on a secret, Jenny and Joya. None of us are affected by your Rule 12 Alinsky attacks. We are far past the point of caring. In fact, the attacks are great fun. Nothing is quite as reassuring, invigorating and humorous as an unhinged leftist attack, so please keep them coming. It makes all the effort worthwhile.
Twitter graphic posted by @KenBlackwell
But there are also the high-minded slurs. Consider Justin Levitt.
This leftist academic (I repeat myself) is known as the Smartest Man in California. If you didn’t know he was, he’ll remind you.
Justice Department photo on Loyola Law School website
Levitt is part of the academic crowd that pushes the Voter-Fraud-Is-a-Myth narrative to the legacy media. Levitt doesn’t like anyone talking about aliens getting on the voter rolls. When the Public Interest Legal Foundation documented over 5,500 voter registrations cancelled for citizenship problems, Levitt went to work. See, he was at the Justice Department during the Obama administration and was part of the neglect that led to corrupted rolls. Because some of the people who were removed in Virginia were eventually put back on the rolls, he thinks the whole report can be ignored.
The problem is that governments shouldn’t be removing citizens from the rolls as non-citizens any more than governments should be putting non-citizens on the rolls. In Virginia, they are doing both.
Our report called any improper removal of citizens “a serious problem with list maintenance in the Commonwealth. Legitimate voters should not be removed from the rolls for not being citizens. If this explains the 5,550-plus instances of removal for citizenship defects, then that circumstance is also appalling.”
Honest academics confront both problems — aliens getting on the rolls or Virginia removing citizens mistakenly. But Levitt isn’t an honest academic, or his version of the report didn’t include the language above.
Then there is former DOJ Civil Rights Division head Vanita Gupta’s attacks on the Commission. She’s the one who blamed the Baltimore riots and burnings on slavery. David Steinberg dismantles her “‘moon-landing was faked-level’ attack” on the Commission better than I ever could.
And what effort to deny voter fraud could be complete without the NAACP? They filed a lawsuit that devotes page after page to political smears of the commissioners. For me, they have copious quotes from PJ Media articles, complete with links! In one article, I describe the danger of American’s growing impatience with jihadist attacks at home, and how that circumstance creates a dangerous situation that risks a backlash. In other words, I borrowed the same narrative that CAIR and Gupta have been pushing, and warned of the danger. They missed the point, but thanks for quoting the article.
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla joined in, chirping personal attacks at me through government servers using government employees. That’s no surprise. California was the last state to finally implement anti-voter fraud database mandates in the Help America Vote Act of 2002 — over a decade after the law passed. Padilla may be sitting on top of a big rotten batch of mess in his voter rolls. I can understand his worry.
One thing the foes of the Commission have in common: they have something to lose.
Whether it is clout, or face, or donations, the truth about vulnerabilities in our elections threatens their position. Why let civility get in the way of self-preservation?
Here’s my written statement from the Commission’s first meeting:
I would like to thank President Trump for initiating this long overdue effort. I would like to also like to thank the other members of the commission for their willingness to examine the integrity of our electoral systems, seek the truth about vulnerabilities in our systems and contemplate ways to improve the process.
Most Americans value truth, and value elections systems deserving of our faith. It’s been said that “truth enlightens our intelligence and helps shape our freedom.” Clean elections protect our freedom. Elections tainted by fraud disrupt the consent of the governed.
I believe all of the Commissioners are dedicated to an inquisitive and robust search for the data and for the truth about vulnerabilities in and ways to improve our election system.
There are areas of serious concern. For example, people are getting registered to vote even though they mark the voter registration forms “NO” to the question, are you a United States citizen. Again, they checked the box on the registration form that they were not citizens, but were still registered to vote. What fair minded American could support this? What serious, inquisitive American wouldn’t ask: how does this happen? How often does this happen? How can we improve the system?
Yet there are plenty of special interests who would rather that these questions not be asked. They don’t want to seek the truth. They don’t even want anyone to ask any questions.
That’s the wrong approach. Americans have never assumed we couldn’t accomplish the mission, couldn’t improve the way things work.
There are ways to examine the truth about our elections without harming a single legitimate voter registration. I am sure the members of this Commission will do their best, as I will, to improve our election systems. For the first time, we have the tools, the will, and the support of the majority of the American people who are concerned with voter fraud, to document any vulnerabilities in our election systems and suggest improvements. I’m excited to help.