By Chinta Strausberg, Chicago Crusader
Now that the House and Senate have passed the Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) bill, Rev. Jesse Jackson said once Gov. Bruce Rauner signs the bill, the next fight is to get a Constitutional right to vote, but he’s more concerned about GOP voter suppression.
The fight comes as Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition prepares to hold its 46th annual Citizenship Education Fund International Convention July 12-15 at the Hilton Chicago, 720 S. Michigan Avenue.
Anticipation is building in Chicago where Jackson aims to address voter suppression and health care for the poor and elderly. While Jackson eagerly waits for Rauner to sign the Automatic Voter Registration bill making Illinois the ninth state to have automatic voter registration, he says President Trump’s tweets criticizing the media and grabbing headlines are nothing more than a diversion from his real intentions of voter suppression.
Jackson was referring to Trump’s Election Integrity Commission he created based on his belief that there was massive voter fraud in the last presidential election. While Trump won the Electoral College vote, he lost the popular vote to Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton by nearly three million votes.
Trump’s demands that states send him voter information including social security numbers, date of birth, 10-year voting history, name, address and party affiliation, has been met with resistance from at least 41 states that are refusing to turn over that confidential information.
At an editorial board meeting at the Chicago Crusader, Jackson called the states’ reluctance to comply with Trump’s demands “sensible,” warning that the list would be a treasure trove of information for cyber thieves. Jackson said the commission “is founded on a lie” and that it “perpetuates a fraud.”
Jackson accused Trump of using the commission to justify his “whopper” that he would have won the popular vote if three to five million voters had not voted fraudulently.
“There is no evidence that anyone of any political stripe can find to back up that lie,” said Jackson. He said the fraudulent voting in the U.S. is “rare, isolated and insignificant.”
Jackson says the purpose of Trump’s commission is simply to perpetuate a fraud with the goal of instilling “fears about voter fraud to suppress voting to make it harder to register and vote,” especially for working and poor people.
But to add insult to injury, Jackson said the commission is headed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, vice chair of the commission, who has a “notorious” reputation of fighting for voter suppression laws along with “feeding fears about illegal immigration,” said Jackson.
Painting a clear picture and purpose of the commission, Jackson said the move was set up to “push the new Jim Crow voting laws which require picture IDs, curtail early voting, cut back on voting booths, ban Sunday voting and repeal automatic or motor-voter registration.” The commission, Jackson said, “is a fraud, with the real reason to make it harder to vote,” designed to suppress the vote of people of color.
The proof, Jackson said, is from the last election where 40 counties with the largest Black populations were allocated 158 fewer polling places. Trump won Wisconsin by 27,000 votes, but Jackson said about 300,000 couldn’t vote because they lacked the newly required forms of ID. “Turnout in 2016 was the lowest in decades” especially in Milwaukee where Jackson said 70 percent of the state’s Blacks live. Polling places on many universities were moved miles from the campuses.
The answer to voter suppression, Jackson said, is Automatic Voter Registration, which would put millions of people on the voting rolls. He urged the Democrats to create their own independent commission designed to end voter suppression. “Voting is the essential right in a democracy. It needs to be protected not suppressed,” said Jackson.
He also called for candidates to get their political funds from within their districts, and not outsiders. “People being served should pay for the service in their district. Somebody of royalty should not be able to buy a state.”