Voting Rights & Issues

Background Checks for Voting Get Floated at Trump Election Commission Meeting

There are about 33,000 gun deaths each year in America. Between 2000 and 2014, there were just 31 documented cases of voter impersonation. But as President Donald Trump’s election integrity commission kicked off its second meeting on Tuesday, a conservative economist suggested that voters be subject to the same background check as gun purchasers in order to assuage Republican concerns about voter fraud.

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, right, introduces one of the speakers at a meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017 in Manchester, NH. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, center, and former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, left, also attend. Gardner opened the meeting by defending his participation and the panel’s existence, saying it hasn’t yet reached any conclusion. (AP Photo/Holly Ramer)

John Lott Jr., who specializes in research on gun ownership and crime, was invited by the commission to speak at the meeting in New Hampshire. The witness list is as controversial as the commission itself, whose roster of voter fraud fear-mongers has sparked concerns that they will use the commission to push reforms that make it harder to vote. All of the witnesses at Tuesday’s meeting are white men, and they include former Justice Department staffers under George W. Bush who have pushed strict voter ID laws and purges of voter rolls.

But nothing in the meeting’s morning session was as explosive as Lott’s proposal. He said the background check system run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, and Tobacco is well suited to check whether voters are eligible to cast a ballot because it checks for such things as citizenship and criminal history. But the qualifications for purchasing a firearm are much more stringent than those for voting. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) screens such things as criminal history, dishonorably military discharges, and mental health or substance abuse issues. Not only could NICS erroneously flag someone as ineligible to vote, it could also deter people from voting who are distrustful of law enforcement and want to stay away from a criminal background check. And background checks cost money, which would have to be paid by the voter or the state.

Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, a Democratic commission member, challenged the background check idea, noting that NICS was never intended to be used for election purposes. But Lott pushed back, saying that since Democrats liked the system for gun purchases, he saw no reason for them to oppose using the system on voters. “It’s the same things that disqualify you from owning a gun that disqualify you from voting,”

Curated from: Mother Jones – Read More 


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Michael Bailey

Michael Bailey is the Chief Curator of Information at The MinorityEye a nationally recognized news blog that focuses on news, events and issues relevant minority communities. He is also an Integrated Marketing Communication Specialist at TME Media Group. His firm provides consulting and training services to non-traditional entrepreneurs as well as corporate, state and local agencies on how to develop integrated marketing strategies that connect with minority consumers.

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