- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A new vision of the Democratic Party is to stress the need for increased voting opportunities and to combat voter suppression, the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) vice chairman said on Wednesday.

“Our job should be making it easier to vote, not harder,” Michael Blake, the vice chairman, said at a press conference on Wednesday.

The Democratic National Committee’s Voting Rights Commission held its news conference ahead of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity’s first public meeting, which will take place later Wednesday morning, and comes after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit last week after the first meeting was closed to the public, seeking increased transparency.

The DNC’s commission was launched to combat President Trump’s election integrity commission, as Democrats worry its actions will suppress voters. It plans to report on ways to improve access to the polls and identify voter suppression tactics.

“We hear this nonsensical myth of voter fraud. It is not happening we are not seeing that,” Mr. Blake said. “We will not allow them to move forward in a way that will hurt our communities.”

Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell of Alabama called the president’s commission a “sham” and said she’s worried it will target people of color.

Meanwhile Jason Kander, founder of Let America Vote, criticized the commission’s Vice Chairman Kris W. Kobach for spending taxpayer money in Kansas to support evidence of voter fraud, but allegedly identified only nine cases out of 1.7 million ballots.

Alex Padilla, California’s secretary of state who strongly opposes the president’s commission, said Mr. Trump has called into question the integrity of both federal and state election officials and volunteers.

“He ignores what the Russians did in 2016 and chooses to investigate Americans,” Mr. Padilla said. “That’s wrong and undemocratic and un-American.”

The president’s commission will livestream Wednesday’s meeting after several lawsuits, in addition to the ACLU challenge, were filed earlier this month after Mr. Kobach asked states to turn over names, partial Social Security numbers, birthdays, political party affiliations, military status and other public information.

The lawsuits allege the commission violated federal law and put privacy rights at risk. The commission has stopped gathering the data until a judge resolves the matter.

And on Tuesday, members of the Congressional Black Caucus and several House Democrats penned a letter to Vice President Mike Pence asking him to remove Mr. Kobach from the commission.

Mr. Pence’s office did not return a request for comment about the letter.

Ahead of the commission’s first public meeting, Mr. Kobach defended the commission’s mission, telling CNN that more facts are needed to determine how many illegal votes were cast during the November 2016 election.

“There’s so much debate on this issue. Let’s put some more facts on the table,” Mr. Kobach said. “Anytime you have a close election and you have one or two people voting illegally, it can sway the election.”

• Sally Persons contributed to this report.


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