President Donald Trump is making up facts about the integrity of our elections. He has laid out a Stevie Wonder isn’t really blind-style conspiracy theory that there were 3 to 5 million illegal votes cast in his election, not coincidentally the number of votes that would have made him win the popular vote.
But we should look closer to home to see where he gets these ideas. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has been an adviser to Trump, although he still very publicly couldn’t land a job in the president’s Cabinet, despite providing that counsel. And Kobach has a long history of making up facts to help him pass unfair voter suppression laws and push extreme anti-immigrant proposals. Thankfully, most of what he proposes never passes and, when it does, it gets thrown out by courts.
I launched more formal elections investigations than any secretary of state in Missouri history, and we didn’t get a single complaint about voter impersonation fraud — not one. There has never been a reported case of voter impersonation fraud in Missouri, which is the only type of fraud that voter identification laws could prevent. And despite Kobach’s best efforts and a boatload of tax dollars, he hasn’t been able to find the widespread fraud in Kansas he claims exists. Now he has the president of the United States involved in this scheme.
We should be doing everything we can to make it as convenient as possible for eligible Americans to cast a ballot. People fought and died for the right to vote. Now is not the time to go backward simply because Trump has an inferiority complex about the fact that 54 percent of Americans wanted someone else as president. What Trump is doing now and Kobach has done for years intimidates eligible voters, which, unfortunately, is their plan with all of these baseless statistics and claims anyway.
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Trump obviously has ego issues that he’s trying to address by making up reasons for why he lost the popular vote by so much, but this is more sinister than that. He’s setting up a fake case to help Republicans across the country pass more restrictive and unfair voting laws that will make it harder to vote — and easier for Republicans to win in 2018 and for Trump to win re-election in 2020. This is more than a vanity exercise. It’s a long-term misinformation campaign to try to disenfranchise voters.
We have figured out how to make almost every other part of our lives easier and more secure, but why not voting? Why can’t eligible Missourians vote before Election Day, or even register that day? Why are so many politicians scared of allowing more people to vote? Anyone involved in elections or government in general should strive to make voter turnout as high as possible, regardless of political party. When people don’t vote, it’s an indictment of politicians, not voters. If someone doesn’t vote, politicians either didn’t give them a reason to vote or made it too difficult for them to exercise their rights.
I served my country in Afghanistan to defend our democracy and our values, including the value that says we all count — we all get to vote. With his “alternative facts” about voter fraud, Trump is undermining our entire system of government. We should all take offense at that.