Native American Rights Fund slams President Trump for commission on 'voter suppression'

Getting out the Native vote. Photo: National Congress of American Indians

The nation's oldest Indian legal advocacy group is speaking out against a new commission that President Donald Trump said will investigate voter fraud.

Attorneys with the Native American Rights Fund said the Presidential Commission on Election Integrity is based on a flawed premise. Voter fraud is not widespread yet is often cited in an attempt to restrict the voting rights of Native citizens, they said.

“This commission is completely backwards; it is not the American people who need to be investigated, it is the jurisdictions using more suppressive tactics to keep citizens from voting,” attorney Natalie Landreth said in a press release on Friday.

The commission, in fact, includes “prominent advocates of voter suppression,” NARF said. The non-profit singled out Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who serves as co-chair of the new body and has been labeled the “King of Voter Suppression” by the American Civil Liberties Union, which has worked to protect Native voting rights.

“Voter suppression is designed by those in power to keep themselves in power,” Landreth said. “They know as the electorate changes, their power wanes so these tactics are meant to ‘freeze the electorate’ in a way.”

All of the members of the commission so far are representatives of state governments. The executive order signed by Trump does not mention mention tribes or require their involvement in the investigation of alleged voter fraud.

“It is ironic that this president purports to investigate election integrity since it is now known that he very likely benefited from Russian interference in the November 2016 election,” said Landreth. “That is what needs to be investigated, not the American voters. And I want to be very clear about why the president is doing this: he is purporting to create a record that will surely form the basis for nationwide legislation to further suppress voting.”

Trump lost the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election by more than 2.8 million votes. He has repeatedly said voter fraud played a role in the outcome of the race but has never offered any evidence.

Despite losing the popular vote, Trump won enough votes in the Electoral College to secure the highest office in the United States.

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