Kris Kobach, the ‘King of Voter Suppression,’ Will Lead Trump’s Sham Voter Fraud Commission. Be Afraid, Very Afraid.

President Trump signed an executive order yesterday forming a commission to investigate voter fraud and voter suppression after repeatedly claiming, without evidence, that the United States has a “major problem” with illegal voting.

In response to the executive order, the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project immediately filed a Freedom of Information Act request demanding that the government release any “evidence” it has to support President Trump’s claims of voter fraud. Too often in our country’s history, accusations of voter fraud have been used to justify unnecessary and unconstitutional restrictions on the right to vote.

I sat down with Dale Ho, director of the ACLU Voting Rights Project, to discuss the potential impact of the commission and what Americans can do to protect one of the most fundamental rights in our democracy. Below is a slightly edited version of our conversation.

What was your first thought when the news broke today about President Trump’s executive order on election integrity?

Dale Ho: That this was the first step in a plan to suppress voting in this country. There is no evidence that we have a problem with election integrity. You can tell that this is a sham commission just by the appointment of Kris Kobach, someone who has devoted much of his professional life to suppressing the vote, to vice-chair. It’s a circus show, designed to undermine confidence in our system and to reach a pre-determined result and to justify laws that make it harder for people to register and vote as a result.

Is this preoccupation with voter fraud new to the 2016 election and Donald Trump?

The American people should demand that elected officials and election administrators not participate in this phony commission.

Ho: No, not at all. There was a similar wild goose chase to root out voter fraud during the George W. Bush administration. It was a five-year investigation nationwide that cost millions of dollars and turned up a few dozen reported instances of fraud over a period of time in which hundreds of millions of ballots was cast. It was a political agenda that led to the improper firings of a number of United States attorneys. It was one of the biggest scandals of the George W. Bush administration, and it eventually resulted in the resignation in disgrace of Alberto Gonzalez as attorney general.

We’ve been down this road before. People have looked for this fraud; it’s not there. What we’ve gotten instead are politicized witch hunts that end in disgrace. I expect nothing different here.

As the commission begins to carry out its investigation, what do we need to watch out for?

Ho: First, we need to watch out for any discussion about changing the “motor voter” law. Passed in 1993, motor voter standardizes voter registration practices around the country. It ensures that anyone who interacts with the DMV or another government agency has the opportunity to register to vote. It’s made the system simple and uniform.

Efforts to tinker with that without any evidence of fraud would be a huge problem. We know that Kobach has a plan to change the motor voter law. The documents that outline the plan were photographed in his arms when he was interviewing for homeland security secretary. There’s no real inquiry happening here; the outcome and policy recommendations are already determined. And it’s going to be to try and change the motor voter law so that instead of this uniform and simple system that we have nationwide, we’ll have the disaster of voter suppression that Kobach has enacted in Kansas.

The ACLU’s Voting Rights Project has a long history with Kris Kobach. Tell us about it.

In a democracy, you can either compete for these votes or you can try to suppress them. The latter is Mr. Kobach’s strategy.

Ho: Kris Kobach is the king of voter suppression. He has an obsession with trying to show that there is widespread cheating in our elections when there isn’t. In Kansas, he’s instituted a “Show Me Your Papers” law which requires people to show a birth certificate or passport when they register to vote. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, in a unanimous opinion by Judge Jerome Holmes, who was appointed by George W. Bush, found that Kobach had engaged in “mass denial of a fundamental right” by blocking 18,000 motor voter applicants from registering to vote.

After he was ordered to fix that problem, Kobach said fine, I’ll let those voters vote in federal elections, but I’m not going to let them vote in state and local elections. We had to go back into court and this time, a state judge said Kobach had no authority to separate Kansas’ election system into a bizarre two-tiered system where some people could vote for president, but not governor. Kobach tried to justify these laws by saying that there is widespread voter fraud. The 10th Circuit called that “pure speculation.”

In yet another case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit said that Kobach had “precious little record evidence” of noncitizen voting. So this is a person who shamelessly spreads a myth of widespread voter fraud, has no evidence to back it up, and uses it as a justification for laws which suppress voting. One out of seven people who’ve tried to register in Kansas since his “Show Me Your Papers” law went into effect have been blocked from registering to vote.

It’s been a complete disaster in Kansas and it’s obvious he’s trying to replicate that disaster nationwide. It’s an effort to freeze the electorate in place. It disproportionately affects young people, people who register for the first time. Half of the people in Kansas who have been blocked by this law are under the age of 30. This is a voter suppression plot.

You mentioned freezing the electorate in place. The United States is a country that is rapidly becoming more and more diverse. Can you talk about how voter suppression efforts disproportionately impact people of color?

Ho: We know that the electorate is changing. People of color are growing, not just in terms of their numbers but in terms of the rate at which they participate in the elections. And that may have consequences in terms of who wins elections. In a democracy, you can either compete for these votes or you can try to suppress them. The latter is Mr. Kobach’s strategy. In the case we are litigating in Kansas, his own expert found that African-Americans, who are 6 percent of the citizen voting pool in Kansas, represent 18 percent of the people who lack documents like a birth certificate or passport. So we know it’s going to have a racially disproportionate effect and that’s Kris Kobach’s own expert telling us so.

What can the public do to advocate for voting rights and hold elected officials accountable?

We’ve been down this road before. People have looked for this fraud; it’s not there.

Ho: First the American people should demand that elected officials and election administrators not participate in this phony commission. The only thing that participating in this commission will do is lend a person’s credibility to a sham process, unless or until Kris Kobach is removed as the vice-chair. Secondly, people should demand that no changes be made to the motor voter law. It’s one of the most important laws in our country. Attempts to undermine it will hinder Americans’ ability to exercise the most fundamental right in our democracy. And finally, we have to talk about what is really wrong with voting in the United States: We have one of the worst voter turnout rates in the world. Our democracy’s weakness is that there are so many eligible people who don’t make it to the polls, not that we have ineligible people trying to break into the system. If we want to enhance election integrity, we should focus on ensuring that everyone who wants to participate can.

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WHERE WAS THE ACLU?>>18 Major Scandals in Obama’s ‘Scandal-Free’ Presidency=1.The great “stimulus” heist: Obama seems to think nobody will remember he grabbed almost a trillion dollars for “stimulus” spending, created virtually zero private-sector jobs with it, allowed a great deal of the money to vanish into thin air, and spent the rest of his presidency complaining that he needed hundreds of billions more to repair roads and bridges.
Vast sums of taxpayer money were wasted on foolish projects that came close to the Keynesian economic satire of hiring some people to dig holes, and others to fill them in. Obama added insult to injury by appointing Vice President Joe Biden as the “sheriff” who would supposedly find all that missing stimulus loot.
Americans mostly ended up footing the bill for was an army of government jobs, and a lavish network of slush funds for the Democratic Party and its union allies. We’re supposed to forget about all that because years later, Obama’s weak economy finally dragged itself to something like normal “official” employment levels… with the U.S. national debt doubled, and our workforce rate reduced to Carter-era lows. Sorry, Democrats, but that’s more than just failed policy. It’s one of the worst government-spending scandals in our history. Democrats will howl to the moon over far, far smaller abuses of taxpayer money during the Trump administration, should any occur. 2.Operation Fast and Furious: Obama partisans seem to think any given example of abuse or ineptitude by their man stopped being a “scandal” the moment it seemed clear he wouldn’t be impeached over it. Operation Fast and Furious, the Obama administration’s insane program to use American gun dealers and straw purchasers to arm Mexican drug lords, is a scandal with a huge body count, prominently including Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Jamie Zapata, plus hundreds of Mexican citizens. Agent Terry’s family certainly thinks it qualifies as a scandal.
It is difficult to imagine any Republican administration surviving anything remotely close to Fast and Furious. The media would have dogged a Republican president without respite, especially when it became clear his Attorney General was putting political spin ahead of accountability and the safety of the American people. Remember, AG Eric Holder escaped perjury charges by claiming he didn’t know what his own subordinates were doing – a pioneering, but sadly not unique, example of an Obama official using his or her incompetence as a defense. For years afterward, we would hear some version of “I’m not a crook, I’m just completely inept” everywhere from the Department of Health and Human Services to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
But this was Barack Obama, so the media downplayed Fast and Furious news… to the point where viewers of NBC News learned about the scandal for the first time when Holder was on the verge of being held in contempt by Congress for it.
The relatively benign explanation for the astounding Fast and Furious scandal is that Obama’s Justice Department wanted to release guns into the Mexican wild, like so many radio-tagged antelope on a nature show, and follow them to arrest the big fish of organized crime. (In case you were wondering, no, the guns didn’t actually have radio tags in them – that was tried in the much smaller, and utterly disastrous, Bush-era program Obama’s team used as a model for their vastly larger and more careless program.) This explanation becomes more difficult to believe, the more you know about how careless the program was, and how abruptly it was shut down after Agent Terry’s death.
The more sinister take on Fast and Furious is that the Obama administration wanted to create gun crimes in Mexico so they could complain about lax regulations on American gun sales – “for the purposes of creating a narrative that they could use in America to try and thwart our Second Amendment constitutional rights,” as Andrew Breitbart put it during a 2012 interview.
No matter which interpretation you subscribe to, or how much you think Barack Obama knew about the program when he made scurrilous claims of executive privilege to shut down investigations, it’s an insult to a large number of murder victims to claim it wasn’t a scandal. Unfortunately, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives hasn’t learned as much from the OFF debacle as we might have hoped.
Incidentally, the Border Patrol named a station in southern Arizona in Agent Brian Terry’s honor. On New Year’s Eve, persons unknown fired rifle shots at a Border Patrol vehicle near the station. 3.Eric Holder held in contempt of Congress: This was a result of Operation Fast and Furious, but it merits distinction as a separate scandal in its own right. Holder was the first sitting member of a president’s cabinet in the history of the United States to be held in contempt of Congress.Of course, Democrats closed ranks behind Holder, the White House protected him, and the media allowed Holder to spin the contempt vote as mere “political theater.” In reality, it was a difficult step that responsible members of Congress didn’t want to take, and it was fully justified by Holder’s disgraceful conduct in the Fast and Furious investigation. No reasonable person could possibly review the way OFF was handled and conclude it was an example of transparency and accountability. 4.ObamaCare: Everything about ObamaCare is a scandal, from the President’s incessant lies about keeping your old plan if you liked it, to Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s “we need to pass it to find out what’s in it” dereliction of Congressional duty.ObamaCare is a scam, pure and simple – sold on false pretenses by people who knew it wasn’t going to work the way they promised. It doesn’t feel right to dismiss it as a “failed” scheme when so much of the failure was intentional. The bill was so sloppily crafted that Democrats were basically signing blank sheets of paper when they rushed it through Congress in a foul-smelling cloud of back-room deals. ObamaCare’s designers precipitated a constitutional crisis by forgetting they left in a provision to cut subsidies for states that didn’t set up health-care exchanges – a provision that would have killed the entire program stone-dead two years ago, if it had been enforced as written.The Supreme Court rewrote ObamaCare on the fly twice to keep it alive, which is a scandal in and of itself. President Obama delayed and rewrote the law so often it was impossible to keep track of the changes, cutting Congress out of the loop completely. (Actually, someone did keep careful track of them, and the tally was up to 70 distinct changes by January 2016.) That made some of Obama’s rewritten mandates and deadlines blatantly illegal – but then, the Affordable Care Act isn’t really a “law” in the sense American government understood the term. In practice it became something entirely new, an enabling act that gave the executive unlimited power to do whatever it thought necessary to keep the system running. If subverting the American system of government isn’t a scandal, what is? And let’s not forget the scandal of ObamaCare’s disastrous launch, foisted on the American people even though its designers knew it had severe flaws – the billion-dollar website that cost another billion dollars to fix after it crashed, accompanied by a constellation of state exchanges that blew up like Roman candles of bureaucratic incompetence. Let us not forget the absolute zero accountability for this disaster, mismanaged by everyone from President Obama to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who treated the biggest new government program in several generations as though it were a minor side project that could be handled by subordinates with minimal supervision. 5.Spying on journalists: Establishment media came about as close to falling out of love with Barack Obama as ever when his administration was caught spying on journalists.Why, if the reporter subjected to the most egregious surveillance, James Rosen, didn’t work for Fox News, the mainstream media might have started treating Obama like a (shudder) Republican. Rosen was treated so badly that even Attorney General Eric Holder eventually admitted feeling a bit of “remorse” about it. Apparently he felt so much anguish that he suffered temporary amnesia and forgot to tell Congress that he signed off on the request to wiretap Rosen while he was testifying under oath. 6.The IRS scandal: The selective targeting of conservative groups by a politicized Internal Revenue Service was a scandal grenade Democrats and their media pals somehow managed to smother, even though the story began with the IRS admitting wrongdoing.Democrats suffocated the scandal by acting like circus clowns during congressional hearings, but at no point were the actual facts of the case truly obscured: yes, pro-life and Tea Party groups were deliberately targeted for extra scrutiny, their tax exemption applications outrageously delayed until after the 2012 election without actually being refused. If anything remotely comparable had been done to, say, environmentalist and minority activist groups by the IRS under a Republican administration, the results would have been apocalyptic.There’s also no question about the facts of the follow-up scandal, in which IRS officials brazenly lied about having backups of relevant computer data. The American people were expected to believe that multiple state-of-the-art hard drives failed, and were instantly shredded instead of being subjected to data recovery procedures.Luckily for the politicized IRS, the Justice Department was hyper-politicized under Obama too, so no charges were filed, and scandal kingpin Lois Lerner got to enjoy her taxpayer-funded retirement after taking the Fifth to thwart lawful congressional investigation. 7.Benghazi: This is the clearest example of Obama and his supporters thinking all of his pre-2012 scandals ceased to exist the moment he won re-election. Benghazi has been investigated extensively, and argued about passionately, since the night of September 11, 2012. Nothing can change the absolute fact that the Obama administration’s story for the first few weeks after the attack was false, and they knew it was false. They spun a phony story to buy themselves a little time during a presidential election campaign, and it worked.Nothing can change the fact that Libya was a disaster after Obama’s unlawful military operation. Nothing can obscure the truth that Ambassador Christopher Stevens was sent into a known terrorist hot zone without a backup plan to ensure his safety. Everything else from Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and their defenders is pure political spin. They dragged the story out for years, until they thought it couldn’t hurt them any more. That doesn’t erase its status as a scandal. (And they were evidently incorrect in their belief that it couldn’t hurt them any more!) 8.Hillary Clinton’s secret server: While we’re on the subject of Hillary Clinton, her secret email server is an Obama scandal, too. She perpetrated her email offenses while working as his Secretary of State, and contrary to Obama’s false assertions, he knew about it.Plenty of Obama officials other than Clinton played email games, most infamously EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, who created a false identity for herself named “Richard Windsor” to get around government transparency rules. 9.The Pigford scandal: Named after a landmark lawsuit from the Bill Clinton era, the abuse of a program meant to compensate minority farmers for racial discrimination exploded under Obama. After years of left-wing attacks on Andrew Breitbart for daring to speak up about the scandal, the mainstream media – no less than the New York Times – finally admitted his critique of the program was accurate in 2013.Once again: if careless mishandling (or deliberate politicized misuse) of huge sums of taxpayer money isn’t a scandal, what is? 10.NSA spying scandal: Opinions about the nature and intensity of this scandal vary wildly across the political spectrum, but there’s no doubt that Edward Snowden’s pilfering of sensitive National Security Agency data was a debacle that damaged national security. We had the ghastly spectacle of Attorney General Holder thanking Snowden for performing a public service by exposing surveillance programs Holder’s own administration didn’t want to talk about.President Obama and his administration made many false statements as they tried to contain the political damage. The fallout included significant losses for U.S. companies, and diplomatic problems for the United States. Just about everything Obama did before, during, and after the Snowden saga damaged the relationship between American citizens and their government. 11.Bowe Bergdahl: Bergdahl’s ultimate fate rests in the hands of a military court (unless Obama pardons him) but no verdict can erase the scandalous way this administration conducted the prisoner swap that freed him from the Taliban and its allies. Many lies were told, the law was flouted, a deal of questionable wisdom was struck with his captors, and outraged Americans demanded recognition for the soldiers who died searching for Bergdahl after he abandoned his post. 12.Iran nuclear deal and ransom payment: Everything about Obama’s dealings with Iran has been scandalous, beginning with his silence while the Green Revolution was brutally put down by the mullahs in 2009. The Iran nuclear deal was pushed with lies and media manipulation. The infamous pallet of cash that wasn’t a ransom has become symbolic of Obama’s mendacity and penchant for breaking the rules, when he thinks following them is too much trouble. 13.Polluting the Colorado river: The Environmental Protection Agency managed to turn the Colorado River orange under this greenest of green Presidents. Of course there was a cover-up. Would you expect anything less from this “transparent” administration? 14.The GSA scandal: The General Services Administration was caught wasting ridiculous amounts of taxpayer money on lavish parties and silly projects. Heroic efforts to resist accountability were made, leaving puzzled observers to ask what it took to get fired from government employment under Barack Obama. (Alas, it was hardly the last time that question would be asked.) Oh, and of course there was a cover-up from the Most Scandal-Free Administration Ever. 15.The VA death-list scandal: The Department of Veterans Affairs has long been troubled, but the big scandals broke on Obama’s watch, most infamously the secret death lists veterans were put on while executives handed in phony status reports and signed themselves up for big bonuses. Obama was more interested in spinning the news and minimizing his political exposure than addressing problems; in few areas outside ObamaCare has his rhetoric been more hollow, his promises more meaningless. 16.Solyndra: The marquee green energy scandal wrote “crony capitalism” into the American political lexicon, as corners were cut and protocols ignored to shovel billions of taxpayer dollars at companies with absurdly unrealistic business models. President Obama’s ability to pick bad investments was remarkable. Luckily for him, American taxpayers covered his losses. 17.Secret Service gone wild: The Obama years saw one scandal after another hit the Secret Service, from agents going wild with hookers in Columbia, to a fence jumper penetrating the White House, and tipsy Secret Service officials driving their car into a security barrier. 18.Shutdown theater: Obama hit the American people hard during the great government shutdown crisis of 2013, doing everything he could to make American citizens feel maximum pain – from using “Barry-cades” to keep war veterans away from their memorials, to releasing illegal alien criminals from detention centers. It was an infuriating lesson for voters in how every dollar they get from government is a dollar that can be used against them, when they are impudent enough to demand spending restraint.

Junior Broadhurst


So...your wife doesn't listen to you so you feel the need to rant?


That's the most factually accurate summary of the Obama administration's last 8 years. It needs to be on the front page of the Washington Post to remind everyone or should I say, bring attention to the numerous criminal scandals that Obama is guilty of. That way, every time liberals make up a new allegation to accuse President Trump, like the Russia collusion lie, they'll have a bunch to compare them with instead of Richard Nixon.

As for the executive order on fixing voter fraud. This should be welcomed, no this should be demanded by every district in the country. We need to have strict Voter ID Laws to make sure that only American citizens are allowed to vote. I guarantee, that the only ones against this are democrats. They know that people have to have ID for everything else in life so needing it to vote isn't a hardship. They oppose the law so they can commit fraud. It's common sense. Don't try to say the ACLU isn't a liberal only organization when your website says The Resistance Movement on top.


"The Constitution is Unconstitutional." - ACLU

I'd love to see sedition laws enforced against you guys.

Diane Sandow

Anonymous is a troll. Ignore.

Aaron Davis

The type of people who rant and spew their vile, worthless filth, under the name "Anonymous", should probably get out of mom's basement and have a peak at the real world.


When I became a citizen, I learned of the responsibility and the right of a US citizen to vote. I saw no indication that states could remove that right because a citizen was a felon, or even more egregiously, an ex-felon. This is a huge voter suppression grab.

Kate Hill

Dear Mr. Cheng & Mr. HO,

Thank you for your Q&A. I am an American citizen living abroad and trying to do everything I can on voter rights from a distance. I remember watching my mother merely sign in to vote when I was a kid and I am alarmed by this frontal assault on voting rights. Two questions: can Sessions seize voter registration rolls from states on the pretext of curbing voter fraud? Also, do you know if there is any project out there helping people get passports and birth certificates so they can vote? I am sure there are many folks out there ready help fellow citizens with paperwork, bureaucracy and fees. I’ll donate! This needs to be a community movement.

Keep hope alive,


Judy E-C

Thank you ACLU.

Sign talker

The motor voter law. In California a potential voter does not need photo ID. How ever in other states like Montana you need photo ID. This, as Amrit Cheng claims is not a uniform system. The motor law. simplifies the voting process to the point where it is easy for anyone to vote.


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