President Donald Trump’s administration has recently come under fire for requesting controversial state voter data for its Presidential Advisory Commission, which is investigating voter widespread voter fraud. So, far the majority of states have rejected at least part of their requests for sensitive voter information like Social Security numbers.
But – another letter was also sent out by the Department of Justice concurrently – which is even more alarming. It was sent to 44 states asking election officials to provide among other things, how voters may be kicked off voting lists.
What’s ironic about the request is that their asking states how they are in compliance with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, an act that implemented to help people register to vote, not vice-versa.
“These two letters, sent on the same day, are highly suspect, and seem to confirm that the Trump administration is laying the groundwork to suppress the right to vote,” said Vanita Gupta, the CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and former head of DOJ’s civil rights division under President Barack Obama. “It is not normal for the Department of Justice to ask for voting data from all states covered by the National Voter Registration Act. It’s likely that this is instead the beginning of an effort to force unwarranted voter purges.”
“If this went to any individual states, I don’t think anybody would’ve blinked twice,” said Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School who served as deputy assistant attorney general in the civil rights division in the Obama administration. The letter asked for public information that was uncontroversial, he added, but what made the letter “really weird” was that it was sent out to so many states.
“The Department of Justice does investigations all the time, but those are usually based on individualized predicates to believe that there’s a problem in a given area, in a given jurisdiction. And I’m not aware of a similar letter being sent to blanket jurisdictions across the country,” he said.
The Trump Administration is wanting to know what processes states use to remove people from voting lists and the people authorized to make those calls. That’s deeply disturbing.
“When you see DOJ send a bunch of letters like this requesting information about compliance with the law, that’s usually a sign that they’re kicking an enforcement campaign into gear,” Sam Bagenstos, who served as the principal deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights from 2009 until 2011. “It looks like what they’re doing is they’re laying the groundwork to file lawsuits against states that, in their view, aren’t kicking enough people off of the rolls.”