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Kobach Komedy Klassics

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The pushback against the illegal requests of Kris Kobach, Grand Wizard of Donald Trump’s Vote Suppression Commission, continues in earnest:

At first, only a few states, like California, Kentucky, and Virginia, said no, denouncing the commission as “a waste of taxpayer money and a distraction from the real threats to the integrity of our elections today.” But over the holiday weekend, opposition to Kobach’s request dramatically increased from both red and blue states. As of Wednesday afternoon, 45 states have refused to turn over private voter data to Trump’s commission. “I’ve been studying America’s election administration since 2000, and I’ve rarely seen a firestorm like this,” wrote MIT political scientist Charles Stewart III.

Twenty states are refusing to give Kobach any data and 25 states are handing over only limited public information on voters (a full list of the states appears below). Even Kobach couldn’t hand over Social Security numbers to himself because they’re not publicly available in Kansas. Six states have not yet responded.

Glad to see that Trump is finally bringing people together.

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  • Really didn’t expect to see states like Arizona, Tennessee, and Wyoming in the “complete refusal” list. Even if some of these states are probably in the “only we can suppress our citizens’ right to vote; we don’t need no Feds to do it for us” category, it’s still a mildly pleasant surprise.

    Of course my state is in the “no response yet” list. Of course.

    • I’m surprised New Jersey is eagerly providing all the requested info. I can only guess that Christie has decided he’s never going to show his face in public against after he leaves office.

      • Murc

        I’m increasingly convinced Christie actually genuinely likes Trump and wants to help him out regardless of how shabbily or not Trump treats him.

        I’m not sure if that’s better or worse than cozying up to him out of naked greed.

        • Steve LaBonne

          Major league assholes gotta stick together.

      • Drew

        I am not terribly worried considering Murphy is probably going to win but what a piece of shit. I want him to gtfo when he’s done but I’m not sure any other state deserves him.

    • NeonTrotsky

      My understanding is that the amount of information the commission requested, particularly with regards to social security numbers, is actually illegal for most secretary of states to even release to anybody. It’s not quite the bipartisan brew ha ha the media seems to think it is, but if it demonstrates the incompetence of the Trump administration then I’ll take it.

    • tsam100

      There’s a nerve that being on federal lists hits with a lot of people, especially 2nd Amendment enthusiasts. They feel an inherent danger in that. Shit, the right wingers freak out about the goddamn census every 10 years. So to see right wingers being wary of this kind of thing isn’t really surprising to me. Ask any of them what they think about an official federal ID. You might get a pistol stuck up your nose.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        Yes, the same people shrieking VOTER FRAAAAUUD! about The Mexicans and The Blacks are the same people making it impossible for us to have a national ID card to help prevent voter fraud. (OK, I’m not saying there’s a voter fraud issue, but that would be an obvious, mundane solution.)

        • I haven’t looked at this recently, but I think there’s a fair amount of bipartisan opposition (as well as bipartisan support) for national ID. The Real ID act is generally popular on both sides of the aisle in Congress, for instance, and also draws dissent from both sides of the aisle.

          It really comes down to how you feel about privacy issues, which does not map very well on our current political axis. Right wingers who care about it may care more about the privacy of gun owners and left wingers may care more about over-surveillance, but there are basic privacy concerns on both sides.

    • les

      Missouri won’t even comply with Fed driver license requirements, cause they’re not the boss of us. So soon Mo licenses won’t be ID for TSA. But they’re sending everything to Kobach, because rampant (unfindable) voter fraud.

      • billcinsd

        Unfindable? Democrats have been elected statewide in the past 10 years. What more evidence do you need

    • I say this with no irony at all– it is always nice when you see conservative politicians standing up for their ideological principles, precisely because it happens so infrequently in modern politics.

      If you are a conservative– an actual conservative who believes in limited government and devolution of power to the states– you should see these requests as outrageous even if you agree with some of the goals of the commission. Good for these states for actually seeing it this way.

    • Donalbain

      The states know that there will eventually be a Democrat in charge of the DoJ . They gain nothing from getting the feds looking at their voting process in detail.

    • I got an email this morning saying that most of the GOP states claiming that they won’t give Kobach the information already *did* send him the information, and are now lying about it.

      The email was from Greg Palast, so I have no idea how true it is.

  • kaydenpat

    No state should turn over any info to this idiot. He has made it clear that his only agenda is to purge the rolls of Democratic voters (especially those who belong to minority communities) under the guise of fighting “voter fraud”. It’s disgusting when one of our major political parties is so highly invested in voter suppression that they’ll tell lies to further their cause.

    • When your overall agenda is as popular as diaper rash, what else can you do except restrict the vote to your true believers?

  • Couldn’t they have just asked the NSA for this information?

    • Steve LaBonne

      Or the Слу́жба вне́шней разве́дки.

  • Denverite

    I’m just wondering if they really have the balls to go through with their “voter registration fraud” shtick and remove everyone who is registered in more than one place from the voting rolls (i.e., anyone who has moved in the past five years). That would cut many tens of millions of voters from the rolls, and those voters-who-have-moved probably skew 75-25 Democrat.

    • Mac the Knife

      I’m envisioning an Office Space-type scenario where they purge way more votes than they intend to. That could be…grimly humorous.

    • Steve LaBonne

      They can’t remove anyone, since voter registration is a state function.

      • tsam100

        No, but they can come up with all kinds of phony evidence to support Republican state secretaries in their quest to get rid of Democratic voters. Getting federal assistance in suppression would likely help suppression efforts to some degree.

      • Amadan CBEB
        • epidemiologist

          The situation with the Census is really scary. Between Republican cheapness and incompetence, their vested interest in miscounting people, and the inhibition many people will feel at reporting personal information to this government, it could be a true disaster.

          I think the only hope to get it done right in the government’s side is that so many people and organizations are dependent on the Census. It is way more than a population count with some demographic information– it’s a critical source of high quality economic and geographic data as well and is probably implicated somehow in everything Americans do.

          As far as people not wanting to cooperate though, I really can’t blame them. I think ultimately statistical methods will be needed to estimate the undercount.

  • Murc

    Something I learned during this I didn’t know before: in many states, your registration status, political affiliation, and whether or not you voted is publicly available to any yahoo who wanders in off the street and asks for it.

    That shouldn’t be legal. Secret ballot should mean secret, from top to bottom.

    • Denverite

      There’s a reason that some of us are registered independent, even if (until very recently in Colorado) it means that we can’t vote in the primaries.

      • Murc

        Doesn’t Colorado specifically have some sort of “confidential voter” thing?

        Which should not, of course, be necessary.

        • Denverite

          Yeah, but that’s a pain — you have to go to the county clerk’s office and pay $5.

          Plus the Democrats use a caucus system, which is sooooooo tedious.

          Plus plus, if an employer or potential employer is trying to find out my party affiliation, the fact that I’m on the confidential list is probably just as big of a red flag as being the wrong party.

          • tsam100

            We still have caucuses in WA too. Super annoying and stupid.

      • Drew

        My area is so heavily Democratic that I’d be the weird guy at work if I were a Republican. But yeah good move on your end. Then again some clients may be very conservative. But eh.

    • Gepap

      What is secret is your choice in the polling booth, not your ability to cast a vote.

      • Murc

        That’s not secret enough. Secret should mean secret. The mere fact of a persons political affiliation can be used against them and should be 100% private if they so choose for that reason alone.

        • Gepap

          Ah, as you said, what is secret is “the ballot”, that being what you cast on election day. Nowhere does it say secret voter registration, or secret party membership. If party membership is secret, how exactly do you make petitioning work? Or closed primaries? Also, voter rolls are used for jury selection – you really think that works with a system in which all that info is secret?

          Also, why should your choice to join a private entity (which is what political parties are) be subject to secrecy? You don’t have to join a political party, ever.

          And as far as discrimination based on political ideology, laws are sketchy on that, but in the end, we as a society allow for private actors to discriminate based on ideology in a number of ways – as that type of discrimination is also a form of private power.

          • Murc

            Ah, as you said, what is secret is “the ballot”, that being what you cast on election day.

            That becomes considerably less secret if any idiot who wants it can pull my entire political history just by asking.

            Nowhere does it say secret voter registration, or secret party membership.

            You are correct. I am saying that it should, not that it does.

            If party membership is secret, how exactly do you make petitioning work?

            Petitioning whom? For what?

            Or closed primaries?

            Presumably political parties would maintain membership rolls, which they would not be obligated to hand out to anyone who asks for them but which will only be used for the purpose of verifying membership prior to a vote being cast?

            Also, voter rolls are used for jury selection – you really think that works with a system in which all that info is secret?

            Why would it not? How does the government NOT handing out my political history to anyone who asks for it impinge on its ability to send me a jury summons?

            Also, why should your choice to join a private entity (which is what political parties are) be subject to secrecy?

            Basic respect for peoples privacy?

            Also, political parties are not, in fact, wholly private entities. I wish they were! Their structure, control, and operations is integrated with the government in many ways.

            • Gepap

              First of all, your “political history” is a meaningless phrase. What is not secret is your voting history, as in, which elections you voted in. Given that elections are public events, run by the government, the question becomes why should that be private? What secrecy should there be around you participating in our most basic of democratic processes?

              As for membership in parties, our political parties have outsourced their membership roles and primaries to the public sector. I have no problem with the fundamental reform of making all party functions purely private matters, but that would require a fundamental reworking of the electoral system in the US. Based on your comment, this is something you understand, but given that many party functions are run by the government, I say the burden falls against secrecy, as public data should be presumed not to be secret, unless you can show a real rationale or secrecy, and your concerns about possible political repercussions aren’t enough really. I mean, this information has always been public, as you just discovered – can you now point to it having been used prejudicially against you?

              And when I say petitioning, I specifically mean gathering signatures to be able to run for elected office as part of a party. That is another function parties have outsourced to the government, and it would be hard to petition if the addresses of party members and their signatory history were secret info.

              • Murc

                What secrecy should there be around you participating in our most basic of democratic processes?

                The fact that it isn’t anyone fucking business. It’s between me, and the state.

                What my political affiliation is and whether or not I’m voting are no more your business than my religious affiliation, economic status, sexual orientation, or indeed what I had for breakfast this morning. If you want to try and find out said political affiliation, you can ask me, and maybe I’ll answer, but maybe I’ll tell you to go fuck yourself. You shouldn’t be able to get the government to answer that question FOR you.

                I say the burden falls against secrecy, as public data should be presumed not to be secret,

                Public data is by definition not secret, yes. I’m saying this data shouldn’t be considered public data.

                I don’t get why this is a big deal. People can’t just waltz up to the government and ask to see my tax returns, but my history of political participation, sure, they’ll fork that over.

                and your concerns about possible political repercussions aren’t enough really.

                They’re more than enough. The base reason is “it’s literally none of your fucking business.” It’s up to you to demonstrate that there’s a need for private information about my actions to be public, not the other way around.

                can you now point to it having been used prejudicially against you?

                Me personally? No.

                Denverite, who as stated upthread and in numerous previous threads, has had to maintain independent status to avoid potential retaliation (which has denied him the right to participate in the primaries of the political party of his choosing) has, tho.

                And when I say petitioning, I specifically mean gathering signatures to be able to run for elected office as part of a party.

                This should be handled internally by said parties.

                • Gepap

                  You live in the Democracy. WE ARE ALL THE STATE. That is the point of a Democracy. So yes, it is in fact the business of the citizenship to know who is part of it.

                  If you want political affiliation to be private, then campaign for a society in which party functions are purely private and don’t in fact get shunted to the government in any way.

                  “None of your fucking business” is not an argument – its an attitude.

        • nick056

          Wait what? Political affiliation shouldn’t automatically receive the same absolute level of secrecy as the ballot. That’s not to say there aren’t good arguments for minimizing exposure, but the secret ballot is not really primarily justified by the desire to shield people from reprisal for their political activity, but rather to fight the incentive to buy votes or to intimidate people into voting certain ways. In other words, the secret ballot is about election integrity first and foremost.

          Protecting people from reprisal or harassment based on political affiliation is a laudable goal, but there are other considerations as well — certain types of civic activity are of such an inherently public character that attaching someone’s name to them simply requires people to own the social impacts of their decisions.

          It seems to me inherently related to the CNN Troll issue this week — privacy and anonymity are linked but not coterminous concepts, and allowing political parties to effectively have anonymous membership rolls raises concerns about the ability to organize and debate openly and in full view of the broader public.

          • Murc

            That’s not to say there aren’t good arguments for minimizing exposure,
            but the secret ballot is not really primarily justified by the desire to
            shield people from reprisal for their political activity, but rather to
            fight the incentive to buy votes or to intimidate people into voting
            certain ways.

            Maybe it should be about both those things.

            allowing political parties to effectively have anonymous membership
            rolls raises concerns about the ability to organize and debate openly
            and in full view of the broader public.

            If a political party does not wish to organize and debate openly and in full view of the broader public, they should have that right. The public will either decide they’re okay with that and vote for them anyway, or that it isn’t cool.

            • nick056

              The “public will decide” has a nice ring to it, but I can’t help but feel it’s a cousin to Cornyn’s tweet this week that when it comes to insurance, “people will buy what they value.” It’s a bit of classical question begging. Why?

              Because the public HAS decided; specifically, they’ve decided that if somebody wants to form the Murc Sucks Party or whatever, in most cases there should not be a presumption of secret membership, permitting people to see who’s empowering that party while not allowing people to actually buy votes for its candidates.

              The secret ballot’s primary function is to avoid the complete corruption of democracy by monetizing the vote. The primary function of confidential registration is allowing people to avoid the consequences — reasonable or retaliatory — for their political organizing. There are decent arguments for that, which is why public registration information isn’t universally mandatory, but it’s just not the same class of information.

              • epidemiologist

                “Because the public HAS decided; specifically, they’ve decided that if somebody wants to form the Murc Sucks Party or whatever, in most cases there should not be a presumption of secret membership, permitting people to see who’s empowering that party while not allowing people to actually buy votes for its candidates.”

                The public decided how our political parties should operate? I think I may have missed the meeting where we all voted on that.

                What else in our society is just fine the way it is, because evidently the public put it that way?

                • nick056

                  Where did I say that? The point is here that Murc is trying to argue that we ought to guarantee the secrecy of someone’s “political history” and the public ought to be free to decide on a case-by-case basis what it makes of various entirely secret political parties based on whatever information those parties choose to divulge.

                  And my point is that the kind of public choice Murc prefers is already in operation — but the public has in general categorically decided that in general party membership is not a confidential matter, though that’s a porous boundary, largely because of the extensive and inherent public and civic dimensions of political activity and organizing. (Indeed, secret voting is really the exception, not the rule, to a generally public partisan process.)

                  There’s virtually no chance the public will reconsider this and decide that en masse political membership should default to secrecy. I confess that while I understand individual cases where people feel vulnerable, the idea of normalized secret political membership and activity strikes me as fairly ridiculous. Not being able to know how someone voted is critical, not being able to know whether someone voted is a little precious. Elections with no electors.

  • diogenes

    Total scam. When we register to vote, we provide bona fides and a signature. When we vote, we provide a signature for them to compare to our registration document. It’s only worked for forever.

    Plus, I’ve yet to have explained to me how lazy takers all of a sudden get energized/organized to the point of throwing enough elections to matter. If moochers are savvy/crafty enough to pull this off, we should put them in charge of the CIA.

    • Denverite

      It’s a bait-and-switch. They’re going to switch from voting fraud to “voter registration fraud” — i.e., people being registered in multiple places or dead people being registered. It’s 100% innocuous — when you move or die, it usually takes a couple of election cycles (i.e., several years) to get your name off of the old precinct’s rolls. But they are going to shout and scream how that proves they are right about millions of fraudulent voters, and they’re going to try to clear all the duplicate registrations off of the rolls. That will really hit young people, people who live in apartments, etc. You know. Democrats.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        How many more employees, nationwide, would it take for boards of elections to monitor all death notices, obituaries, receive phone calls from family members of the deceased, incoming data from other large government agencies about notices of death? And how many tax dollars would the GOP devote towards this?

        Just asking to amuse myself.

        • Unemployed_Northeastern

          The answer to your first question is “many.” The second to your second question is “none.” So any efforts are predestined to fail, hence showing the failure of big government and the rationale for handing the whole affair over to whatever private company lobbies and contributes the most money.

      • Breadbaker

        And in our total land of “we don’t even have enough money for essentials” we are of course going to fund this with Cadillac-sized appropriations. Because reasons.

        • BiloSagdiyev

          Because Republican contractors.

      • diogenes

        They can have my attention when they demonstrate that all of those dead people actually voted…

      • billcinsd

        This is what they do with voter registration groups, like ACORN. The registration groups are required by law to turn in all registrations received and the state government is tasked with determining which are legitimate. Maybe that guy did change his name to Donald Duck only the state will know that. But turning in registrations for Donald Duck are held by the Kobach-iots to be prima facie evidence that the registration gathering organization is trying to cheat

  • BiloSagdiyev

    I say all the states get together and search their databases for every Kobach, Kris – no middle name used in search — and then accuse him of voting in 12 different states.

    • diogenes

      ohhhh, nasty. I like your style!

  • thispaceforsale

    51 states!

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