Executive Council Statement | Civil Rights

Voter Suppression Is the Real Threat to Election Integrity

The labor movement believes that ensuring and protecting the right of every citizen to vote is a bedrock principle of our democracy. That is why we are alarmed by the “Presidential Commission on Election Integrity,” which seems to be nothing more than the latest pretext for passing legislation that will make it harder for people to register and vote.

Several of the “election integrity” commission’s members have spent years perpetuating conspiracies and lies about voter fraud and championing efforts that make it harder to vote. President Trump himself, both before and after his election, has made wild and unsubstantiated claims about “illegal voting” and our electoral system being “rigged.”

The commission unfortunately is focused on a problem that does not exist. Our democracy suffers not from voter fraud, but from voter suppression and disenfranchisement. In fact, voter fraud in the United States virtually is nonexistent. One report from the Brennan Center for Justice, “The Truth About Voter Fraud,” noted that it is more likely an American “will be struck by lightning than...impersonate another voter at the polls.”

Even Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who was tapped to lead this commission, testified before Kansas lawmakers that his review of 84 million votes cast in 22 states yielded only 14 instances of fraud referred for prosecution. This amounts to a 0.00000017% fraud rate.

At best, the efforts to stop so-called voter fraud are misguided and unnecessary. At worst, they are propaganda with roots in some of our nation’s ugliest periods of discrimination designed to deny citizens their constitutional right to vote, particularly people of color, young and first-time voters, and low-income Americans. In the name of “fraud protection,” legislation requiring photo ID, the curtailing of early vote hours, illegal voter purges, the restriction of absentee voting and other disenfranchising practices all have been used to limit eligible voters from exercising their right to vote.

America’s hard-working families and communities deserve better. As a movement of working people, we demand that this type of dangerous approach to governing end, and that a pro-voter agenda be adopted immediately, starting with the restoration of the Voting Rights Act and passage of legislation that expands opportunities for citizens to vote. We applaud the 44 secretaries of state who are withholding some or all of the information requested by the commission. And we join with hundreds of other civic organizations across the political spectrum in calling for real integrity in our democracy, and urge our leaders to expand and protect the right to vote.