WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday said President Donald Trump should demonstrate his rejection of the white supremacists’ agenda by shutting down his commission on voter fraud, saying the panel’s real aim is to “disenfranchise voters.”
If Trump fails to rescind his order creating the Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, Congress should bar it by adding a measure to must-pass pieces of legislation this fall, Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in an essay he published on Medium, the online publication.
Schumer said the commission was a “ruse” based on Trump’s claim that 3 million to 5 million people voted illegally in last year’s election. Schumer also said the panel’s intent was similar to the KKK’s: to limit the voting rights of black and other minority voters.
“In the wake of the events in Charlottesville, President Trump’s refusal to promptly and unequivocally denounce the radical, white-supremacist movement in this country was disgraceful,” he wrote.
“If the president wants to truly show that he rejects the discrimination agenda of the white supremacist movement, he will rescind the Executive Order that created this [election integrity] commission,” Schumer wrote.
“And if the president does not act, the Congress should prohibit its operation through one of the must-pass legislative vehicles in September,” he added.
Schumer also called for a public debate on the status of voting rights in America, including issues such as same-day registration and voting fraud.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is leading the commission, dismissed Schumer’s essay.
“It’s idiotic to suggest that a commission studying an issue from 30,000 feet looking at statistics and numbers is somehow going to cause a voter in some far-flung corner of the country to decide not to go to the polls some Tuesday,” he said.
Kobach acknowledged that black people and other minorities were barred or discouraged from registering and turning out to vote during the years of segregationist Jim Crow laws. But he said, “This [commission] bears no relationship or semblance to any of the discrimination laws of the Jim Crow South.”
The commission stirred widespread alarm when it sent a request to all states for publicly available voter registration data, but also asked for confidential information such as partial Social Security numbers and party registration.
After a federal judge ruled the commission could proceed with its data collection, Kobach scaled back his request for just publicly available voter registration data. New York State initially refused to comply, but in July gave the panel its publicly available registration file.