The GOP's platform committee convened in Tampa, Fla., on Tuesday, expanding the party's official endorsement of state voter ID laws to include support for similarly divisive proof of citizenship laws.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) submitted an amendment calling for the addition of language to the draft GOP platform expressing support for state legislation that requires voters to show proof of citizenship when registering to vote. The amendment would build on a prior backing of "true, robust photo ID laws," Kobach said.
"We support state laws that require proof of citizenship at the time of voter registration to protect our electoral system against a significant and growing form of voter fraud. Every time that a fraudulent vote is cast, it effectively cancels out the vote of a legitimate voter," the amendment, later adopted by the committee, read.
Voting rights advocates have claimed that such legislation, much like voter ID measures, threatens to disenfranchise eligible voters by creating costly obstacles to the registration process. While statistics have shown voting by undocumented immigrants to be uncommon, the possibility of such an occurrence has led to prevention efforts. In Florida, most notably, Gov. Rick Scott (R) insisted that a widespread purge was necessary to remove potential undocumented immigrants from the voter rolls.
Delegates responded positively to Kobach's proposal, taking the opportunity to speak more broadly in favor of stringent voter ID measures they have insisted are designed to preserve electoral integrity.
Tamara Hall from Montana claimed that "vote integrity" was under siege by Democratic-aligned agents.
“I think we have to acknowledge and be bold that people on the progressive side are willing to cheat in ways we could never before fathom,” Hall said. “You have no idea the extreme these people will go to to steal an election.”
According to Hall, a community organizing group took her mentally disabled daughter without authorization and coerced her into voting using "cookies and milk." It's unclear how voter ID would have prevented this practice, but Hall said it was evidence that Republicans needed to "fight" for the legislation.
But Clarence Mingo, an African-American delegate from Ohio, expressed some concern over the way the GOP presented its support for voter ID, saying it was necessary to "demonstrate sincerity" that the issue was not about "political gain."
“I think it is very important and critical that this language not be used for strategic political purposes,” Mingo said. “Our efforts in this regard must be sincere, and that’s to prevent voter fraud. Any other message or any other suggestion that the party or this platform is attempting to suppress votes for political gain I don’t think will help our cause much, and that’s certainly not the intent of this body."
Kobach, one of the nation's foremost immigration hardliners and co-author of Arizona's controversial immigration law, was later expected to propose a series of strict measures regarding immigration enforcement. A source told The Hill that they had been met with resistance in an earlier offering.
"Kris Kobach was on the subcommittee that dealt with immigration and didn't get any of his amendments in," the source said. "He presented eight amendments and none made it."