Women and people of color are most likely to be adversely impacted by laws that restrict access to the ballot. Mike Pence did not call any of either to his meeting on voter fraud.
The 2016 election was marred by colossal flaws that prevented people from voting. But the Trump administration has consistently signaled they want even fewer people to vote.
The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, led by Mike Pence, is devoting most of its time to the farcical, dog-whistle assertion that millions of votes were cast illegally, a notion that has been enthusiastically promoted by Donald Trump ever since he lost the popular vote.
This week, Pence’s vice chairman Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state who founded a national voter purging system, is in New Hampshire investigating right-wing rumors that Hillary Clinton only won due to people “bussed in” from Massachusetts — a claim that is utterly baseless, but has nonetheless prompted the state’s Republican governor to pass a new law forcing voters to submit to random home inspections by police.
But nothing says more about the intent of this commission than the people Pence and Kobach have scheduled as witnesses for their meeting on Tuesday:
— Kristen Clarke (@KristenClarkeJD) September 6, 2017
The complete absence of women and people of color on the commission’s witness list is appalling, since essentially every voter suppression scheme has been about silencing their vote in favor of white men.
North Carolina’s GOP-backed voting law, which greatly restricted the types of IDs allowed to vote and cut early voting hours specifically on days that Black churches organize voting drives, was ruled by a federal court to have targeted African-Americans “with almost surgical precision.”
Meanwhile, Texas’ voter ID law, which federal courts struck down as discriminatory on five separate occasions, not only made it harder for minorities to vote, but also imposed a draconian name-matching requirement that disenfranchised women with discrepancies between their maiden and married names.
Most blatantly, Republicans in many states have strategically shuttered polling places in Black neighborhoods. Pence’s own state of Indiana pioneered this technique. Since 2008, GOP officials there added two extra early voting stations in mostly white Hamilton County while closing two in racially diverse Marion County, despite the latter having far more voters. Pence himself signed a bill in 2013 that effectively banned adding more early voting stations in Black counties, but not white ones.
Although states with Democratic legislatures, like California and Illinois, are moving in the opposite direction and expanding voting rights, Republican politicians continue to reap great rewards from their voter suppression schemes, which, together with gerrymandering, have gained them over 1,000 seats at the federal and state level since 2010.
Because these schemes target women and minorities, it is crucial that these groups have a seat at the table for election reform. Pence’s choice to exclude them is a signal that the Trump administration is not merely indifferent to their right to vote, but openly hostile — and will not hestitate to keep silencing their voice.