Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler struck a defiant pose after receiving a request for the lowdown on voters from President Donald Trump's Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.
“I have been fighting this kind of federal intrusion and overreach and will continue to fight like hell for the people who trust me with the integrity of our election process,” Schedler declared.
Our paladin, responding to a letter signed sent to all 50 states by the commission's vice chairman Kris Kobach, refused to provide any information that is not public record under state law.
His is not a lonely battle, for at least 44 states have refused to co-operate either in full or in part.
The Kansas Secretary of State, for instance, has drawn the line at divulging the last four digits of every voter's Social Security number. And whose recalcitrance is thus frustrating Kobach's plans? The Kansas Secretary of State is none other than Kobach himself.
Louisiana joined about two dozen states in refusing to turn over personal information about …
Kobach had no choice but to turn himself down. His letter twice states that he is only seeking information that is public record, and Social Security numbers in Kansas are not.
Several other states have refused to provide the commission with any of the requested information regardless. Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hoseman came up with the most spirited response, declaring, “They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great state to launch from. Mississippi residents should celebrate Independence Day and our state's right to protect the privacy of our citizens by conducting our own electoral processes.”
The presidential tweet that greeted the states' refusal to co-operate asked, “What are they trying to hide?” So far as Trump is concerned, this just confirms that voter fraud in rampant in this country. The commission was set up after he allowed that, although he won in the electoral college, the popular vote was “rigged” in favor of Hillary Clinton.
He has alleged that 3 to 5 million votes were illegally cast in the presidential election. But the poet who saw a man who wasn't there had nothing on Trump; he was the only one who spotted a record crowd at his inauguration, for instance. He has no trouble imagining a conspiracy to cover up jiggery-pokery that inflated the Clinton vote.
Hosemann and Schedler have no obvious incentive to take part in such a conspiracy, each being a Republican from deep in Trump country. Trump's theories come to seem all the more cockamamie when his commission receives a bipartisan raspberry from one end of America to the other. Democrats believe that Kobach is out to disfranchise their supporters; Vanita Gupta, head of the civil rights division during the Obama administration, says the letter is “laying the groundwork for voter suppression, plain and simple.” But it is as an invasion of privacy that it has been denounced by Republicans and Democrats alike.
In addition to partial Social Security numbers, the letter asks for the name, address, date of birth and party affiliation of each voter. It wants to know if, though not how, each of us voted in all elections held over the last 10 years. The commission is also curious about such matters as our “military status” and criminal convictions.
When voting fraud as a crime is almost vanishingly rare, but concern about the privacy of da…
A request explicitly limited to information already in the public domain is not exactly Orwellian, perhaps, and there is nothing in the commission's wish list, even if it is confidential under state law, that is not in the files of various state and federal agencies.
Still, when we are surrounded by hackers and identity thieves, there is no telling what mischief a national database of our private dope could produce. We would need a compelling reason to set one up, yet here we are spending all this public money just to gratify presidential paranoia.
Although Trump was purportedly alarmed about Democratic dirty tricks, all that talk of Russian interference in our election struck him as a “witch hunt.”
Now he has changed his tune. His earlier insistence that Russian interference did not happen has not stopped him from blasting Obama for failing to deal with it.
Meanwhile, for all the good it can do, the electoral integrity commission might as well pack it in right now. There are enough real problems to be tackled.