Trump #ShamVotingCommission Considers Gun Background Checks for Voter Registration

President Trump's #ShamVotingCommission led by known voter suppression artist Kansas Kris Kobach is considering gun-style background checks prior to allowing voters to be registered. Read more here...

For Immediate Release, Sept. 14, 2017
Contact: (866) NYDLC-01; [email protected]

NYDLC rejects and denounces the latest proposal to restrict voter registration being considered by President Trump's so-called Voter Integrity Commission (led by known voter suppression artist Kansas Kris Kobach), which concerns the potential imposition of a gun background check before a person can register to vote.

Kobach, Kansas' Secretary of State who is running for Governor, has championed some of the strictest voting laws in the country during his tenure. He also lacks credibility in this area and is a known voter suppression artist (NYT). The proponent of the proposal is John Lott, the president of the Pennsylvania-based Crime Prevention Research Center. In 2016, Lott published a book called The War on Guns: Arming Yourself Against Gun Control Lies. Lott, who doesn't believe Background Checks are effective, questioned why Democrats would oppose using the same system for voting that they support for gun violence prevention. Clever. We would question the converse, but that is beside the point.

NYDLC agrees with constitutional law scholars and the civil rights community that the idea as currently proposed is “patently absurd”. Adam Winkler at UCLA points out that the fact that the structure of voting regulation is entirely different than the regulation of guns, it's hard to believe this is a serious proposal.” The ACLU Voting Rights Project's Dale Ho noted that only four states permanently ban people from voting for felony convictions while the rules on firearms are much more complicated, and have different waiting periods depending on the nature of the offense committed. 

An actual voting rights expert, Justin Levitt of Loyola Law School, who has comprehensively studied the prevalence of voter fraud by pouring through billions of votes over decades remarked that the selection of panelists at Tuesday's commission meeting “seems to mirror the selection of commissioners — this is not the group you'd assemble if you were serious about real research into real solutions to real problems with the voting system.” Kristen Clarke, Executive Director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights under Law commented in regard to the commission that "its existence is solely to lay the groundwork for what will ultimately be an aggressive national push of laws like photo ID requirements, burdensome proof-of-citizenship requirements, [and] John Lott’s new and wacky suggestion that we use gun-type background checks on voters."

The New York Democratic Lawyers Council (@NYDLC) finds this scheme to be wholly unproductive toward the implied committment to improving US election administration. NYDLC Executive Director Jarret Berg said: "It is not immediately clear whether this proposal is just a dig at Democrats who support gun background checks as an obvious means to reduce preventable, predictable gun violence--a real problem that manifests itself daily in our cities and too frequently in our suburbs--or whether it is merely the latest proposal being considered by voter suppression gurus eager to throw up new hurdles to voter registration under the pretext of combatting phantom voter fraud, but it almost doesn't matter. The real 'fraud' being perpetrated on American voters involves the widespread and systemic effort by GOP-controlled states to restrict voting by likely-Democratic constituencies during the Obama era and the Trump-Sessions-era shift of leading this charge at the Federal level from DOJ and the debunked and discredited Kobach Commission."

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Founded in 2005, the New York Democratic Lawyers Council (NYDLC) is a coalition of lawyers and non-lawyers dedicated to fostering universal participation and trust in the electoral process by ensuring that:

* All eligible persons can register to vote easily

* All registered voters are able to vote simply, fairly and without intimidation and

* All votes are counted and all voting systems are open and reliable

Click here to support NYDLC's 2017-18 voter protection, voter engagement, and pro-voter advocacy efforts.