Editorials

Kobach-led commission considers background checks for voters. Are ballots scarier than bullets?

The voting commission for which Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach serves as vice chair is considering a proposal that would subject voters to the same background checks as gun owners.
The voting commission for which Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach serves as vice chair is considering a proposal that would subject voters to the same background checks as gun owners. AP

The voting commission for which Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach serves as vice chair is considering a proposal to subject voters to the same background checks as gun owners. Because ballots are at least as scary as bullets.

In case there’s any doubt about why the party that sees background checks for gun owners as an onerous incursion would see background checks for voters as an idea worth kicking around, the man who will present the concept to the commission on Tuesday explains it all in a PowerPoint presentation that’s been posted on the White House’s website. It’s right there on a slide called “How to check if the right people are voting.”

The right people? You know, the eligible people, says John Lott, the president of the Pennsylvania-based Crime Prevention Research Center, whose plan would use the federal background check system for gun purchases on voters. That includes checks on whether a person is a U.S. citizen or has a felony conviction. Lott, who is a long-time opponent of gun control, argues that if background checks don’t limit the rights of gun owners, then they wouldn’t disenfranchise voters, either, would they?

The whole purpose of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is to come up with evidence to support President Donald Trump’s baseless contention that Hillary Clinton bested him in the popular vote in 2016 because of massive voter fraud by undocumented immigrants. And while the commission is in no danger of uncovering any such evidence, putting voters through a background check does sound like an efficient way to suppress the vote.

Trump has a reliable ally in Kobach, who argued recently in a Breitbart column that in New Hampshire, where Tuesday’s meeting will be held, enough people voted illegally to swing the election from Trump to Clinton and the U.S. Senate race from Republican Kelly Ayotte to Democrat Maggie Hassan.

Kobach wrote, “now there’s proof” that out-of-staters took advantage of New Hampshire’s same-day registration and cast fraudulent votes. Connecting an assortment of far-flung dots, Kobach concluded that because 6,540 same-day registrants used an out-of-state ID on election day, and only 1,014 of them had gotten a New Hampshire driver’s license 10 months later, then the Senate election was likely stolen through voter fraud.

Only, those leaps of logic overlook the fact that many who used an out-of-state license live in a college town. And that new arrivals do not have to register for a new driver’s license right away. Kobach predicted that the mainstream media will tell us, “there’s nothing to see here.” But there is something to see, and it’s a man who has based his political future on the nine cases of voter fraud that he’s been able to prove in Kansas.

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