Vote suppression guru and guy whose face melted in Raiders of the Lost Ark Hans von Spakovsky was on the stand to defend Kris Kobach’s Kansas vote suppression law earlier this week, with grimly amusing results:
But Ho noted that von Spakovsky had donated to defendant Kobach’s campaign in 2010 and had voiced support for the idea that being born in the United States doesn’t guarantee U.S. citizenship.
To stop for a moment, there are many constitutional questions about which reasonable people can disagree. This is not one of them:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.
Arguing that people born in the United States are not guaranteed American citizenship is like arguing that a 3-year-old is eligible to be president or that the Senate is apportioned by one-person-one-vote.
Ho intended to show that von Spakovsky had formed an opinion about the Kansas law before he knew much about it and had written an expert report based on unreliable information.
Von Spakovsky admitted that he was not aware of a single election in which noncitizen votes determined the outcome. He also conceded that his research into voter fraud had not been subjected to the same kind of rigorous peer review that academic work would face.
Ho noted that von Spakovsky’s expert report in the case contained incomplete information that allowed him to inflate the likelihood of noncitizens getting on the rolls. In one example, von Spakovsky pointed to a NBC News story that said 100 registered voters had returned jury duty questionnaires indicating they were not U.S. citizens. Von Spakovsky failed to note in his report, however, that NBC followed up with those voters and that about a third actually were citizens.
Robinson also questioned von Spakovsky’s understanding of voter fraud. In his Friday testimony, von Spakovsky said that any ineligible voter who cast a ballot was committing voter fraud because they were diluting the vote of a legitimate citizen. Robinson wanted to know if he believed it would also be voter fraud if thousands of legitimate voters were blocked from casting ballots because of a voting restriction (the ACLU estimates the Kansas law affected more than 35,000 people). Von Spakovsky said that he didn’t consider it to be fraud because every voter had an opportunity to obtain the necessary documents to register.
Pressed later by Ho, he was unable to name any voting restriction in the United States that he believed to be a burden to voters.
Von Spakovsky is the John Lott of racist vote suppression, in other words. And his prominence in the Republican Party didn’t start with trump, and his crusade is supported at the most elite levels of the party.