Trump’s Voter Suppression Commission—

Disenfranchising Millions in Service of White Supremacy and Fascism

September 11, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


America, Summer of 2017: Open white supremacist thugs take to the streets to restore their “heritage” of slavery, lynching, and Jim Crow discrimination, while in Washington, DC, a more well-heeled team of fascists—the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity—meets and plans in modern offices, spearheading another front in the same fascist project.

This commission is officially headed by the Christian fascist vice president, Mike Pence, but the on-the-ground leader is Kris Kobach, former Kansas secretary of state (see sidebar).

Most people first heard about this commission in July, when its demand for extensive voting data, including detailed personal information, sparked public outrage and opposition among the rulers (see below).

This opening act pointed to the commission’s barely disguised mission: to prevent millions of Black people and naturalized citizens,1 as well as Latinos in general, poor people and young people, from voting. This is a major component of the Trump/Pence regime’s drive to once again reduce Black and Brown people to a semi-official status as second-class citizens, persons who are not fully human or deserving of all the rights of other people. In this respect, these attacks are a dangerous step towards ethnic cleansing, or even outright genocide.

Second, in the current context, where the fascist section of the bourgeoisie (grouped around the Trump/Pence regime) is encountering opposition from the non-fascist section, disenfranchising whole sections of the masses who are inclined to vote for that non-fascist section is an important way that the fascist regime fully consolidates power, making sure that, to the greatest extent possible, only those forces who are fully down with the fascist program will have any position of power or influence in society and in the state apparatus.

“Millions of Illegal Voters”—A Straight-up Lie from the Liar-in-Chief

This commission was initially formed to validate Trump’s claim that “I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally,” and that “3 to 5 million illegal immigrants voted.” In that respect, it is both a way to try and “legitimize” Trump’s thoroughly il-legitimate regime, and another way to criminalize immigrants, Latinos, and Black people, so that even the supposed “civic duty” of voting becomes something sinister—if you are Black or Brown!

Trump’s claims of massive fraud are absurd—there is virtually no illegal individual voting in U.S. elections.2 One study looked at every federal election between 2000 and 2014, and found 31 (unproven) allegations of in-person voter fraud—out of over one billion votes cast. Kobach himself doggedly sought to prosecute voting by undocumented immigrants in his home state of Kansas, leading to exactly one conviction!

Undeterred by facts, Trump and a whole cadre of fascist commentators use deception to keep this myth going. Trump proclaimed that “dead people are registered to vote,” and that “you have people registered in two states.” That’s true, because when your loved one dies, few people think “I better make sure she is removed from the voting rolls”! Likewise, when people move and register in a new state, they rarely unregister in their old state.

The question is not whether dead people are registered, but are they actually showing up to vote. And the answer is a resounding NO! The few reports of “dead people” voting turned out to be people who died after casting “absentee” or “early voting” ballots. There is simply no evidence of a significant level—much less millions—of individuals voting illegally.

This brazen dishonesty aims not just to legitimize Trump’s authority, but also to create public opinion for a systematic national attack on the voting rights of Black and Brown people and others.

Such attacks are already taking place, on a state-by-state basis. (See “The State by State Campaign to Strip Away Voting Rights” below at right.) Laws to reduce the Black and Brown vote have been passed in at least 22 states in recent years, and states where Black and Latino voter turnout or population has surged have been the main targets of these laws. According to an article in The American Prospect, “The Brennan Center for Justice ... found that of the 11 states with the highest African American turnout in 2008, seven passed laws making it harder to vote. Of the 12 states with the largest Hispanic population growth in the 2010 Census, nine have new restrictions in place.”

The proponents of these laws often make no bones about it—they view the increasing numbers of Black and Brown voters as a problem! An Ohio legislator explained his 2012 vote for a measure against making voting harder by saying, “I guess I really actually feel we shouldn’t contort the voting process to accommodate the urban [read: African-American] voter-turnout machine.” (American Prospect)

The Commission: Act I

The commission met for the first time in early July. As referenced above, so far it has taken only one major action, which was to request that every state’s election board provide the commission with all of its voters’ names and party affiliations, birth dates, felony conviction records, voting histories for the past decade, and the last four digits of all voters’ Social Security numbers. Kobach said he wanted to match this voter information with other data, like federal records of foreign residents and undocumented immigrants, to spotlight people who cast illegal ballots.


This is an extremely ominous move. It means putting some of the tried and true methods of voter suppression already used on the state level at the service of the national fascist state. This could include systematizing and massively upping the level of using statistical flimflam to generate false reports of voter fraud and then using that to “go national” with the kinds of voter suppression laws and measures discussed in “The State by State Campaign to Strip Away Voting Rights” (see sidebar below right), as well as to justify new measures to strip people of the right to vote.

There is also the question of what else this commission—and the Trump/Pence regime as a whole—might do with the kind of massive database they are trying to develop. Such a database, for example, could be used to target whole sections of the people for persecution based on their voting records, political affiliations, prison records, race, nationality, etc., or for “doxing” (publishing people’s personal information online) of individuals who speak out against the regime.

The commission’s request for records aroused public outrage, and also met opposition from other bourgeois forces for various reasons. Nineteen states refused to comply completely, and another 26 are expected to only partially comply. This was a significant setback for the commission (although it is also worth noting this means that 31 states are either partially or fully complying).

But if there is one thing we know about the Trump/Pence fascists, it is that their response to setbacks is to double down and accelerate their drive to fascism. The drive to marginalize, disenfranchise, and suppress the votes—and the voters—of oppressed nationalities is going to continue, unless and until this regime is driven from power.

1. Naturalized citizens are foreign-born residents who complete the process of becoming U.S. citizens and thus gain the right to vote. [back]

2. As is documented in many places, including below in this article, there is massive voting fraud in the U.S.—not individuals voting twice, etc., but the systematic and multi-faceted campaign by the fascists to suppress the votes of Black and Latino people, through legal and illegal means. [back]




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