IL Voting Rights Leaders Sound Alarm: President Trump's Voter Fraud Commission Could Lead to Voter Suppression

CHICAGO (May 18, 2017)--The following is a statement from the Just Democracy Illinois coalition, a nonpartisan voting rights coalition that works for civic empowerment and expansion of democracy, in response to President Trump’s executive order on May 11 establishing a Presidential Advisory Commission to be chaired by Vice President Mike Pence to investigate systemic “improper voter registration” and “fraudulent voting.”

“The establishment of this commission follows President Trump’s insistence, without a shred of evidence, that he would have won the popular vote in the November presidential election if not for the ‘millions of people who voted illegally.’ This fabricated allegation has curried support from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a longtime proponent of voter suppression efforts who has been tapped to help lead the Commission. Advocates for voter access fear this Commission is not designed to be a fair and impartial investigation of either voter fraud or voter suppression.

The Just Democracy Illinois coalition condemns the Trump administration’s baseless allegations, and warns that the Pence-Kobach Commission could lead to efforts to justify voter suppression in marginalized communities. We will oppose this effort with every legal and advocacy tool at our disposal.

“The real voter access problem during the 2016 election was the implementation of more than 30 state voter suppression laws, voter intimidation, and other barriers to access. These tactics were reminiscent of those used in the Jim Crow South to disenfranchise communities of color, low-income voters, individuals with disabilities, and other marginalized populations. Members of the Just Democracy Illinois coalition witnessed this phenomenon firsthand through voter engagement and voter protection efforts across the state.

“Just Democracy Illinois has worked successfully with Republican and Democratic election administrators and government officials who understand that our democracy is stronger when our voting systems are modernized and when we protect the rights of all eligible voters. With bipartisan support for solutions like automatic voter registration, we are proud that Illinois voters and government officials are working to move forward rather than backward with regard to voter access.

“Now more than ever, we need Gov. Rauner to stand up against nationwide threats to democracy from the Trump Administration, and support the bipartisan efforts in Springfield to enact Automatic Voter Registration (SB1933), a bill that would help nearly a million eligible voters be registered in Illinois.  It is more important than ever to update our voter registration system, protect the rights of citizens, and ensure that our democracy remains intact.”

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Just Democracy Illinois is led by a steering committee that includes Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago, CHANGE Illinois, Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, Chicago Votes, Common Cause Illinois, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, and Illinois PIRG.