ACLU’s Voting Rights Battle: A Showdown Against Kris Kobach’s Voting Commission

On October 1, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) launched a nationwide effort to expand voting rights. Faiz Shakir who is the ACLU’s national political director told McClatchy last month that this was their chance to go on the offense.

Shakir told the media outlet that the entire time, voting rights advocates had been playing defense. The ACLU’s effort caught the attention of the Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach. Mr. Kobach even “renamed” the ACLU’s campaign as Let People Vote Without Showing Photo ID. The ACLU’s formally named their campaign Let People Vote. Here are some of the states where the organization is showing their support.

ACLU In Iowa

Voting rights advocates said they were okay with the State of Iowa’s interest in changing their voting laws, a fact established during a public hearing on Monday at the Iowa Secretary of State’s (SoS) office.

One of these changes is to a law that prevents non-governmental organizations that help citizens register to vote. But this has only been an issue where the rights of voters are in question. Voting violations against voters who generally vote for Democrats.

Democrats have already experienced severe losses in the state’s elections over the past decade. Indeed, with Republican majorities in power, Democrats will be challenged to gain voters. Especially now since Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election.

The fact is that Iowa is one of the first states to vote and a swing state. Republicans already hold majorities in the U.S. House and the Senate. Voting rights advocates (ACLU) feel that Republican majorities have a stranglehold on voters, repressing them from coming out to the polls.

The ACLU was among eight voting rights organizations that signed a petition sent to the SoS Paul Pate. The petition called for changes to the state’s new voter id law.

Voting Rights South Dakota

Since Donald Trump became president, funding to the ACLU has increased, and it has allowed the organization to move on its voting rights campaign.  The ACLU reportedly spent $1,145.60 to create petition webpages. The ACLU is pushing for an amendment to take redistricting powers away from legislatures. In turn, an independent commission would hold that power instead.

Specifically, the amendment would make sure there were no more than three people max from each political party in the nine-member commission. This refers to the problems throughout many states where Republican-led governments have Gerrymandered districts to make sure their party held power. Nearly 28,0000 petition signatures are required to be turned in by November.

Taking On Trump’s Commission Via Illinois

President Trump has frustrated American voters by pushing the fake claim that the reason why former Secretary of State and 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton got the popular vote was that of illegal undocumented voters. President Trump assembled a Voting Integrity Commission which is chaired by Kris Kobach. The commission was designed to, no doubt, suppress voter turn out. The suppression is on behalf of Trump and the Republican Party he represents.

American voting rights ALCU

Indeed, there is no other goal for a commission formed around false claims. In May, Kris Kobach sent letters to the secretaries of state nationwide requesting that they turn over their voter rolls. This request was to collect addresses, social security numbers, phone numbers and political affiliations of every voter. The request set off a chain reaction of rejections and criticism against Kobach and his commission.

Kobach overseas the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, which states volunteer for to provide voter lists. One of these states is Illinois where the ACLU is pushing elected officials to withdraw. The organization is explicitly claiming the database discriminates against minorities, has lax security where it doesn’t protect voters. But even more, voting rights advocates want them to withdraw because of Kobach’s involvement.

Going After Kobach, Commission Fails

As stated, Kobach fired back at the ACLU for their campaign. But before this, the Kansas Secretary of State proudly labeled himself as “the ACLU’s worst nightmare.” It is for this reason that when the organization launched their campaign, they did it in Kobach’s backyard of Kansas.

The campaign was launched at the University of Kansas which was obviously meant to target Mr. Kobach. ACLU’s arch-nemesis has taken Trump’s view that the three-million more voters who were central to helping Clinton get the popular vote, as crossing state lines to vote illegally. The chairman of Trump’s voting commission even wrote an OpEd for the right-wing Trumpagandist rag Breitbart. They spoke against New Hampshire’s voting laws that the Annenberg Public Policy Center’s verified.

As the ACLU ramp up their campaigns in other states, I should point out that Kobach and his commission already seems to be facing some of its problems. Since their last session — which was only their second one — three Senate Democrats have called on the Government Accountability Office to investigate funds that go to the commission.

A Democratic member of the group David Dunn died this Monday, days after police arrested one of their staffers was for child porn. One Democratic member said that they wonder if the commission will ever even meet again, but if the group falls apart, there is no doubt that the ACLU will be engaged in plenty of battles against voting rights suppression in all 50 states.

Featured Image: Screenshot Via YouTube Video.