The so-called voter fraud commission that President Donald Trump established sought out information from the state of Texas specifically targeting voters with Hispanic last names.
The commission was disbanded earlier this month due to its inability to obtain records voluntarily from state governments who were less-than-willing to hand over confidential voter information.
“Despite substantial evidence of voter fraud, many states have refused to provide the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity with basic information relevant to its inquiry,” the White House said in a statement on Jan. 3.
The “substantial evidence” was never actually substantiated by any state or federal office. But a new wrinkle into the investigation sheds light into what the White House was really after.
After Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) requested information on the voter fraud commission, evidence surfaced that revealed the commission had sought to purchase information relating to Hispanic voters specifically. A box was checked on a form for the Texas names, indicating the commission wanted information related to “Hispanic surnames” in that state’s voter rolls.
Despite the commission’s vice-chairman, Kris Kobach (who has questionable ties to white supremacist groups), denying that it ever checked that box, the fact that it was checked raises concern for voters’ rights.
Flagging Hispanic voters specifically “gives room for no small amount of alarm in the very possibility that an American citizen could be suspected of voter misconduct based on their ethnicity,” Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap said.
Although Dunlap is critical of the commission, he served as a member on it. He’s currently pursuing an open records request for more information about the request by the White House.
It is unconscionable that the voter fraud commission — which never should have existed in the first place — sought information on voters based on their ethnic background. It is a testament to the recent revelations of Trump’s racism (which, to be clear, were evident long ago) that he presumes Hispanic-sounding last names would yield evidence of voter fraud.
The commission was rightly disbanded. The fallout from its limited existence, however, seems to be bigger than what Trump expected. Damaging information from its short tenure may be released in the future and could provide even more damning examples of racism, as well as purposeful targeting of minority groups, on the part of the Trump administration.