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Election Integrity Commission Considers Voter Background Checks

by Countable | 9.13.17

What’s the story?

On Tuesday, President Trump’s commission on voter fraud will consider a proposal about requiring voters to pass a background check before casting their ballot—just like when purchasing a gun.

The Election Integrity Commission is meeting in New Hampshire to discuss "issues affecting public confidence." As reported in Countable, last week New Hampshire House Speaker Shawn Jasper, a Republican, accused thousands of Granite Staters – and those from nearby states - of casting illegal ballots. In response, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the vice chairman of the commission, alleged widespread voter fraud, which he said could have led to Trump losing the state—and stolen a U.S. Senate seat from Republicans.

Now, John Lott, president of the Crime Prevention Research Center, is in New Hampshire presenting a possible solution to this kind of voter fraud.

In a phone call with the Kansas City Star, Lott said that federal background checks for purchasing a gun look into whether a person is a non-citizen and has a felony conviction, among other information. These same checks could be applied to voters, he says, because there are "similar rules for whether you can own a gun and whether you can vote."

Why does it matter?

In May, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order establishing the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity to look into voter fraud during the 2016 election.

Lott’s PowerPoint - available on the White House’s website in advance of the meeting - includes a slide titled "How to check if the right people are voting."

Republicans, he writes, "worry about voting by ineligible people" while “Democrats say that Republicans are just imagining things.” A solution that “might make both happy? Apply the background check system for gun purchases to voting.”

Lott then presents a series of bullet points under the heading "Democrats’ views on the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)." These include:

  • Democrats have long lauded background checks on gun purchases as simple, accurate, and in complete harmony with the second amendment right to own guns

  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has bragged that the checks "make our communities and neighborhoods safer without in any way abridging rights or threatening a legitimate part of the American heritage."

  • If NICS doesn’t interfere "in any way" with people’s constitutional right to self defense, doesn’t it follow that it would work for the right to vote?

It does not, according to some.

The idea is "patently absurd," Adam Winkler, a constitutional law specialist at UCLA, told the Washington Post. Winkler notes that Lott has, in the past, argued that the NICS doesn’t work, so combining this with “the fact that the structure of voting regulation is entirely different than the regulation of guns, it's hard to believe this is a serious proposal.”

But Lott told the Post, "Yes, I am serious." And in an op-ed with the Chicago Tribune, he explained that NICS

"checks whether a person is in this country illegally, has a nonimmigrant visa or has renounced his citizenship" and that “in 34 states, felons are not able to vote immediately upon release. The background-check system would detect these too.”

Background checks typically run between $55 to $75 a person, but Lott is proposing that states pick up the costs.

New Hampshire had a population of 1.335 million in 2016. At between $55 to $75 per person, New Hampshire would have spent between an extra $73.4 to $100 million in the last presidential election.

California would pay at least $2 billion to perform background checks on its 39 million residents.

Twelve voting groups met in downtown Kansas City on Tuesday to protest the proposal, according to a local Fox affiliate. "They don’t like the idea of subjecting every voter to a criminal background check, afraid it will intimidate some from exercising their right to vote," Fox4kc.com wrote.

What do you think?

Should voters have to undergo background checks before casting ballots? Would background checks cut down on voter fraud? Or is just a way to intimidate some people into not voting? Is there even voter fraud to begin with? Is this proposal two expensive to be taken seriously? Hit the Take Action button, tell your reps, then let us know below—we don’t require a background check before commenting.

—Josh Herman

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(Photo Credit: cybrain / iStockphoto)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(502)
  • Robert
    09/13/2017
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    I think we should have background checks for individuals running for elected office

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  • NoHedges
    09/13/2017
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    This is a clear and blatant violation of the 14th, 15th, 19th, 23rd, 24th, and 26th amendment. And I would certainly hope that the Supreme Court justices would feel the same way. ❗️Stay focused and keep your eye on the ball. This is an attempt to get the people to argue over moot matters and to keep the majority divided and manageable. ✅ Please see my other comments for evidence of similar media manipulation tactics.

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  • maryjoancepla
    09/13/2017
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    Every night I go to bed believing I couldn't loathe this Administration more, and by lunch the next day I realize how very wrong I am.

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  • Wendy
    09/13/2017
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    Just when I think they can't be any more brazen and hypocritical they come up with this. Just another way to keep the people they don't want to vote from voting. Then they refuse to enact background checks for gun ownership. Absurd.

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  • Karen
    09/13/2017
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    This is the GOPs answer to The pushback against the Gerrymandering that allowed their candidate to win an election regardless of the will of the people. They need to turn their attention to the national security breach that allowed a foreign government to try to influence the 2016 election.

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  • Anne
    09/13/2017
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    No on background checks for voters. How about a background check on the fraud we have as a president. What a joke!

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  • Jose
    09/13/2017
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    This is obviously a way to suppress even more votes. Anyone with a background that they don't agree with can get their vote taken away. Whoever agrees with this is only empowering this administration into remaining in power to dramatically change and hurt our democracy. Background checks for weapons will help reduce gun violence but this is shameful for whoever agrees with it.

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  • Adrianne
    09/13/2017
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    Nope. Just more ways to get them to go back to "Jim Crow" type of voting. Nope. Hell nope.

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  • Truly
    09/13/2017
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    Their most blatant attempt at voter suppression so far, and that's saying something. If trump and his cabinet and half of congress and the senate had to pass background checks to do their jobs, most wouldn't be qualified as Walmart greeters.

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  • Dan
    09/13/2017
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    First of all voter fraud is not actually an issue. Second, claiming background checks are necessary as a preventative measure to address an issue that didn't exist is not even a clever disguise for voter suppression. Third, it will probably cost a lot of government money to run all those background checks. Who's paying for that? This is a non -starter.

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  • Loretta
    09/13/2017
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    What about background checks for people to have access to a twitter account? Should their be some sort of morality quiz? I thought they did have anti bullying checks and balances. Oh, and how about those top security checks in order to work in the White House? This entire Presidency and the election that got him there was a fraud!!!

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  • Bluewitsend
    09/13/2017
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    Background checks on voters is a ridiculously expensive proposal. This is just another ploy to suppress votes and make voting more difficult. Voter fraud is not the issue that the republicans are trying to make it. Now Russian interference is a real possibility and the money to make sure that does not happen again would be much more reasonable. I do not support background checks in voters.

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  • Lauren
    09/13/2017
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    A big no on voter background checks. We should be promoting voting to more people, not trying to restrict it!

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  • Jeanne
    09/13/2017
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    So the purpose of this would be??? None of 45 voters would pass a background check. Waste of money. Smoke and mirrors to distract from russiagate. I'm so sick and tired of 45. He's a direct threat to our country.

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  • Marina
    09/13/2017
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    I think the president and cabinet members need to go through background checks, not the voters. This is appalling.

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  • Dre-Gal
    09/13/2017
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    Absolutely not. Run a felon list against your voter registry - I get that but a background check is ridiculous. 1) whose gonna pay for it 2) Plus it's just another way of gathering PII (Personal identity identification). This Commission is just trying another way to capture what we had already said no to. Total bullshit.

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  • Pamela
    09/13/2017
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    1) this is universal right. 2) who's paying for background checks, this will be expensive. 3) why not include an independent mental health competency test requirement for federal elected and appointed officials and candidates. This idea is absurd on its face clearly intended to disenfranchise voters, I don't for a moment believe the intent was to background check all voters, verification should have been done when registering the voter, when the citizen turns 18, becomes a citizen they should be automatically registered to vote.

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  • Dee
    09/13/2017
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    Is he afraid that if he does ever run again, he has to find another way to cheat?!?! Voter suppression should be stopped at all costs. Russia may have helped him get elected, but we will not change our election process to look like theirs! He must be stopped!

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  • Michael
    09/13/2017
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    Extremely unacceptable! Background checks should be on guns, NOT elections. This is just another way to suppress votes by picking your voters. Voting should be a right for every American, no matter who you are. Leave our votes alone.

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  • Azrael
    09/13/2017
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    Another joke We the people demand background checks on every person on the taxpayers payroll and every volunteer this includes making their tax returns public The people voting don't need to be investigated The people in public employment do

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