Nine months after President Trump was forced to dissolve a panel charged with investigating voter fraud, GOP officials across the country are cracking down on what they describe as threats to voting integrity — moves that critics see as attempts to keep some Americans from casting ballots in November’s elections. In Georgia, election officials have suspended more than 50,000 applications to register to vote, most of them for black voters, under a rigorous Republican-backed law that requires personal information to exactly match driver’s license or Social Security records.
In Texas, the state attorney general has prosecuted nearly three dozen individuals on charges of voter fraud this year, more than the previous five years combined. And in North Carolina, a U.S. attorney and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issued subpoenas last month demanding that virtually all voting records in 44 counties be turned over to immigration authorities within weeks — a move that was delayed after objections from state election officials. “The myth of voter fraud is used by those who wish to curtail the right to vote of specific populations, usually minority voters,” said Ezra Rosenberg, an attorney for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a participant in the suit.
“Instead of thinking up schemes to stop people from voting, we should be doing everything in our power to make it easier for people to vote,” he added.
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who enforces state election laws and is also the GOP gubernatorial nominee, said the focus on the suspended voter registrations is a crisis manufactured by his Democratic opponent. Numerous studies have found no evidence of large-scale voter fraud in the United States. But the specter of fraud was raised repeatedly by Trump after the 2016 election, when he claimed without evidence that millions of undocumented immigrants voted illegally for his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton. Soon after entering office, Trump created the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, chaired by Vice President Pence, which was charged with examining claims of voter fraud, improper registration and voter suppression.