And so it begins to affect us all: Nationalization of voter information

First, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) came for the undocumented workers — mostly brown-skinned people from Mexico and Central American countries. Then, they came for Muslims from Africa and the Middle East with a travel ban, based on nothing more than the fact that their countries are majority Muslim, several of which are at war or in famine, resulting in refugees. Next they came to obliterate access to health insurance and health care for 22 million people, many of whom likely voted for the current president.

And now ‘they’ — Trump’s GOP — are coming for all the rest of us who vote and who oppose the current regime.

As BP has outlined,  the “Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity,” created by executive order and featuring Vice President Mike Pence and former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, is coming for your name, address, birthdate, (partial) social security number, military service status, voting history, felony convictions, and more.

[While Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos has voiced his opposition to these demands, he has also said he must comply to the extent that some information is routinely available to the public, by providing voters’ names, addresses, telephone numbers, years of their birth, and whether the voters participated in general elections since 2008.]

[Update from vtdigger.org while this post was in process:] But Monday [July 3], citing new information and a public outcry over the weekend, Condos issued a statement saying he wouldn’t send any information until receiving certain assurances from the Trump administration. [emphasis added] Condos questioned the security of transmittal processes specified by the Commission and how the data will be used.

And most importantly, Condos is quoted by VtDigger as refusing to provide any information  “until I receive answers to these important questions,” he said. “I am working with the Vermont attorney general’s office to understand all of our options, and we will take the full amount of time allotted to respond with what information that is already publicly available, if any, will be provided.” That deadline is July 14, 2017.

Kobach in particular is notorious for making unsubstantiated claims about massive ‘voter fraud’ and litigating in support of various restrictive ordinances and laws, for example, requiring a state-issued photo ID and/or proof of citizenship to be shown by every person attempting to vote.

I have called on  the Vermont Democratic Party’s interim chairman, Faisal Gill, and its executive director, Conor Casey, to issue a statement opposing compliance with the demands of the ‘Voter Fraud Commission.’

To help Jim Condos, our elected Secretary of State, stand strong, you could send him a note in support of noncompliance with this transparent attempt to nationalize all the states’ voter rolls. Then send one to Rep. Peter Welch, Senator Patrick Leahy, and Senator Bernie Sanders. If you think it will do any good, you might consider sending something to Governor Phil Scott, too.

You could include a statement identifying the White House’s Election Integrity Commission or “Voter Fraud Commission” as a radical Republican effort to nationalize all the states’ voter rolls and to suppress voting by Democrats and liberal-identified opposition groups.

The second action item could be an urgent message to Secretary of State Jim Condos to continue to deny access to Vermont’s voter information by this bogus commission. The demand for such information is without rational justification and undermines democracy. It calls for a response of civil disobedience by our Secretary of State to these overreaching demands in the service of a budding dictatorship.

The third action item you might consider is a call to your state legislator to amend or repeal the law Secretary Condos says he must obey, the law that requires him to send at least some of the information. These demands are not being made in normal circumstances or by honorable men preserving democratic processes: they are thugs seeking to preserve their power by any and all means, particularly by finding ways to suppress votes by anyone who might be opposed to the current administration.

The next item on your action list could be a call, a conversation, an email to all your friends and relatives, allies and fence-sitters, whether they are Democrats, civil libertarians, Progressives, allies, and even moderate Republicans, asking them to call, write, or email Jim Condos to support his continuing to resist this transparently anti-democratic tactic.

We hope that members of all those various groups will also contact the members of our congressional delegation to urge them to speak out against this precursor to the nationalization of voter information. The main reason Russian attempts to hack the vote were unsuccessful was that each state voting district and municipality controls its own lists and tallies; centralizing that information in the hands of this partisan federal commission simply does the hackers’ job for Russia.

Further you might get in contact with groups interested in protecting the right to vote from partisan interference, including the ACLU, the NAACP, Black Lives Matter, the Vermont Workers’ Center, and others. We must stand together.

And if nothing else seems to work, it might be time to bring out the signs in Montpelier for a massive show of resistance to federal control of state voter rolls.

If the so-called ‘Election Integrity Commission’ succeeds in its quest for all voter information from all the states and territories, it will be the masterstroke that will begin America’s devolution into a dictatorship. We must stand together, now.

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