A Democratic member of President Donald Trump’s commission to investigate voter fraud issued some of the strongest criticism yet from within the panel on efforts to make it more difficult to vote.
In a lengthy statement to the commission, Alan King, a Democratic probate judge in Alabama, criticized overzealous efforts to purge people from the voter rolls. In his statement, King wrote that while there may be some people who voted twice, there were thousands more who were removed from the rolls for no reason or had their vote suppressed. King won’t be attending the panel’s Tuesday meeting in Manchester, New Hampshire, because of a scheduling conflict, he told commission organizers.
“The reality is that the less affluent in our society are more prone to move and more prone to have a diminished economic position in life, just to survive. But that does not mean that officials in government should ‘game the system’ to deprive the less affluent from voting, simply because they may have moved from one election to another only to be stricken from the active voter list,” he wrote.
“This is about protecting the affluent. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that those that are affluent have a more stable type of residential situation and home life.”
King’s comments are significant because they are some of the toughest comments from a sitting commission member pushing back on the suggestion that widespread voter fraud is a problem. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), the commission’s vice chair, supports a Kansas law that puts people on a suspense list if they fail to show proof of citizenship when they register. J. Christian Adams and Hans von Spakovsky, two other Republican commission members, also support more aggressive voter purging.
King expanded on his statement in an interview with HuffPost, saying he saw aggressive voter purging as a way of disenfranchising the poor and less affluent.
“This is about protecting the affluent. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that those that are affluent have a more stable type of residential situation and home life. And this is about disenfranchising, in my opinion, those perhaps who live in apartment complexes, who are maybe less educated, who maybe for whatever reason in life, they’re not at a level that some people are. That’s what this is about,” he said. “This is just me. But I do have almost 17 years of nuts and bolts experience in elections...It’s clear to me that there is an agenda to deprive people of the right to vote and that is wrong.”
King declined to clarify whether he was speaking specifically about Trump’s commission, which critics fear will lead to widespread voter purging. That alarm was heightened when the Department of Justice sent out an unusual letter in June to 44 states asking for compliance with voter purge policies. The letter went out the same day Kobach sent a letter to election officials across the country requesting voter information, but the Department of Justice says the two requests are unrelated.
Democrats serving on the commission face calls to resign and accusations that they are enabling an effort to weaken confidence in the American electoral system. Several have resisted those calls, saying it’s better to have a seat at the table.
“You take away the right to vote for hundreds of thousands of people and you’re destroying the will of the people. And once the will of the people is destroyed, then I truly believe this nation will fall.”
King said he still wants more information on what the final product of the commission’s work will look like. Several commissioners have said they’ve had little contact with the commission and are unsure of what Kobach has been working on since its last meeting.
“Who is going to write this recommendation, when will the recommendation be written and will all members of the commission have input into the final recommendation?,” King said.
King added he believed he saw protecting the right to vote as crucial to America’s future.
“You can call it voter suppression, someone can name it whatever they want, it’s about treating all people fairly and understanding the importance of the right to vote. And understanding the importance of democracy,” he said. “You take away the right to vote for hundreds of thousands of people and you’re destroying the will of the people. And once the will of the people is destroyed, then I truly believe this nation will fall.”