By Paul Thompson
Several dozen activists gathered at the north end of Ilus Davis Park in downtown Kansas City on Tuesday, September 12 to voice their opposition to the “Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.”
The commission was created by executive order in May of 2017. The chair of the commission is Vice President Mike Pence, and the vice chair is former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. The stated goal of the commission, according to the executive order that established it, is to promote fair and honest federal elections. President Donald Trump’s executive order calls for the commission to consist of those with experience in “elections, election management, election fraud detection, and voter integrity efforts.”
According to a press release sent out by the League of Women Voters of Kansas City, Jackson, Clay and Platte Counties, the protesters gathered at Ilus Davis Park on Tuesday were concerned that the commission will ultimately support “inflexible voter ID laws, reduced polling sites and inadequate poll worker training, requests for voter file data, and the potential of federal interference in state election laws.”
Sara Baker, the legislative and policy director for America Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Missouri, strongly warned against the commission’s prerogatives during the September 12 rally.
“This is a commission built on a lie. It’s a commission not designed to research and produce best practices, but to gather sham evidence to support false conclusions,” Baker said. “We are the Show-Me State; if you want to question our votes, you need to show your work. Kobach has done anything but that.”
“We all agree that American elections need to be fair, secure, and transparent,” Baker added. “But that’s not why Donald Trump established the Election Integrity Commission, and that’s not what the commission will accomplish.”
Karen Brown of Progressive Social Network – Kansas City said that she was motivated to attend the event at Ilus Davis Park because she was concerned about voter suppression efforts being undertaken throughout the country.
“They are out to restrict the vote, not enhance it. We believe very strongly that everybody who is eligible to vote should vote,” said Brown. “The attempt to intimidate people from voting is an attempt to silent your voice. Your vote is your voice.”
Anita L. Russell is a vice president of the Kansas City, Missouri branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Her advice to those concerned about the motives of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is to contact their elected representatives.
“I think what they should do is, every opportunity they get, they should contact their elected officials and let them know what concerns they have with this commission,” Russell said. “It’s important because we’ve had so many people who fought and died for the right to vote.”