Your Taxes Are Being Spent on Making It Harder for Americans to Vote
Thanks to Kris Kobach and his federal disciples.
By CHARLES P. PIERCE
MADISON, WISCONSIN—One of the most charming features of the failed state of Brownbackistan, once known as Kansas, is that it is also the de facto ground zero for the ongoing campaign to squeeze out of the political process those people unlikely to vote for Republican candidates. This is largely due to its Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, who not only is one of the primary innovators in the field of voter suppression, but also is one of the primary parental units for anti-immigrant legislation, having been the author of Arizona’s notorious “Papers, Please” law. These two things, of course, work in obvious harmony to squeeze out of the political process those people who are unlikely to vote for Republican candidates. Nice work, Kris. In the 1950s, people went to prison for rigging college basketball games less egregiously than you’re trying to rig democracy.
Lately, we’ve seen more evidence of how thoroughgoing this depravity truly is. Central to it is something called the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, an institution created with good intentions in the aftermath of the Great Florida Heist in 2000. One of the things the commission is tasked with is overseeing the national voter registration form. It is supposed to be staffed by two members from each party. Now, however, to the surprise of approximately nobody, there are two Republicans and one Democrat because a vacancy has gone unfilled. One of the Republicans is a guy named Brian Newby, and here’s where voters in Alabama and Georgia discover that, as far as their right to vote is concerned, they’re also living in Brownbackistan.
Newby, the commission’s executive director, got his start overseeing elections in Johnson County in Kansas. He is one of Kobach’s proteges—if, by protégé, you mean faithful minion and dutiful mole.
An email provided to The Associated Press through open records requests offers a glimpse into the mindset of Brian Newby, executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, who decided—without public comment or approval from bosses—that residents of Alabama, Kansas and Georgia can no longer register to vote using a national form without providing proof of U.S. citizenship. As a finalist for the job of executive director, Newby said in a June email to his benefactor, Kansas’ Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach, that he was friends with two of the commissioners at the federal agency, and told Kobach: “I think I would enter the job empowered to lead the way I want to.” Voting rights advocates were stunned by Newby’s action once he got the job and have sued to overturn it. Activists say it flies in the face of the commission’s mission to provide a simple, easy form to encourage voter registration.
You will undoubtedly fall over in shock to discover that the commission’s mission is not Newby’s. Or Kobach’s.
Documents obtained by AP show Newby’s ties to Kobach, the architect of voter ID and other restrictive voter registration laws around the nation that he says are needed to prevent voter fraud. Critics say there is very little voter fraud and Kobach’s measures hurt voter registration and deprive eligible voters of the right to vote. Kobach had appointed Newby to be a county elections commissioner in Kansas, and helped him get the federal job that he took in November. “I wanted you in the loop, in part because of other issues in the past with the EAC,” Newby emailed Kobach. “I also don’t want you thinking that you can’t count on me in an upcoming period that will tax our resources.”