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Political News in Virginia

Trump Ends Bogus Commission, But Not Voter Suppression Efforts

When President Donald J. Trump dismantled the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity on January 4, opponents of the controversial panel applauded, saying it was a sham, designed to confront a problem which did not exist: violations of federal and state voting laws.

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Trump’s panel may be gone, but voter suppression continues.

When President Donald J. Trump dismantled the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity on January 4, opponents of the controversial panel applauded, saying it was a sham, designed to confront a problem which did not exist: violations of federal and state voting laws.

Trump, who won the 2016 Presidential race upsetting Hillary Clinton, created the commission claiming she received 3 million-plus more popular votes because illegal aliens voted for her.
Opponents of the panel said it was designed to find ways to suppress Black and Hispanic voters who support Democrats.

The Commission met resistance from Republican and Democratic state officials, including Virginia’s, who were asked to send the names of the people on their voting rolls.
But despite Trump’s ending the commission’s work, voting rights advocates say “they are not out of the woods” so far as stopping it.

Among the main reasons Trump gave for shuttering the panel are the lawsuits and complaints from groups like the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. They accused Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the Commission’s vice chair, with a storied history of supporting voter suppression. Kobach requested that states across the country submit voters’ names, addresses, birthdates, the last four digits of social security numbers, if available, voter history, military status, and felony conviction history.

The request for such information, according to opponents, was designed to remove people from the rolls, notably immigrants, African-Americans, and Hispanics as a way to suppress their support for progressive Democrats.

Instead of the Commission undertaking the Administration’s effort to assure the nation’s election system is not compromised, it has enlisted the services of the Department of Homeland Security (GHS) to do the job.

Now, the LDF and other groups have focused their attention toward this new front to fight GOP-led voter suppression.

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“(W)e expressly alleged that the Commission had plans to collaborate with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that would target Latino and African-American voters,” said the LDF statement on its website.

“Now we know it’s true.”

The statement continued, “In announcing the disbanding of the Commission, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders confirmed the Administration’s intentions:
“‘… President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order to dissolve the Commission, and he has asked the Department of Homeland Security to review its initial findings and determine next courses of action.”

Virginia State Delegate Marcia Price, who represents Hampton and Newport News in the 95th District, is also a leaders of the Black Leadership Organizing Collaborative (BLOC): A Project of New Virginia Majority.

Price said the groups organized a voter education and mobilization effort last year prior to the 2017 General Election where the Democrats gained seats in the House.

She said the same strategy the Trump White House is applying to suppress the vote nationally is being done in Virginia. She said that she and other Democratic lawmakers applaud abolition of the Commission; yet, suppression efforts will continue.

Price said the state’s heavily gerrymandered districts are allowing the GOP to command a 34-seat lead in the House of Delegates. She and other progressive lawmakers would like to end the GOP’s suppressive strategies, including the 18 reasons people must give to qualify for an absentee ballot and stringent voter I.D. laws.

Her district is reliable Democrat, because of the way the Republicans redistricted the voting districts in 2010 and only 20 percent of eligible people turned out to vote, because others were too apathetic.

“These are strategies, purposely used to oppress the votes of African-Americans and Hispanics,” said Price. “These people tend to vote for Democrats. We should be making it easier to vote and not create barriers. Instead of purging people from the rolls, we should be getting more people to the polls.”

A network of conservative groups and political operatives who have used purging to weaken minority voting strength in state and local governments are now getting helping from the Trump Administration, according to the voting rights activists.

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The Department of Justice, last June, sent a letter to 44 states demanding information on their processes for purging voters.

Another weapon in the Trump Administration arsenal is a called “Crosschecking.” This weapon flags anyone who has the same name and date of birth but is registered in more than one place as a possible instance of fraud.

Voting rights advocates are pointing out one big flaw in this scheme: There are going to be a huge number of people who share the same name and birthday, so thousands of people who legitimately cast a vote will have their decision’s nullified.

By Leonard E. Colvin
Chief Reporter

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