Right-wing activist Ken Blackwell, a member of the Trump administration’s “Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity,” joined the folks at “Fox & Friends” over the weekend. If there’s anyone left who doubts that Fox News is functioning as a private-sector propaganda vehicle for the Trump administration, Blackwell’s appearance should clear things up.
“Fox & Friends” weekend hosts Abby Huntsman, Clayton Morris and Pete Hegseth gently tossed softball after softball to Blackwell. Example: “Hey, Ken, break this down for me simply as possible. What is wrong with one alive person, one vote, not interfered with by foreign or domestic interferences?”
Fox played clips of more critical coverage from other networks and joined Blackwell in mocking those journalists for having what Blackwell called “a mission to define the commission and to destroy it in its infancy.” Huntsman even said, without apparent irony or self-awareness, “We’re not on a mission!”
Blackwell was allowed to declare multiple times without fear of contradiction that the commission’s work is essential to protect legitimate voters from having their votes effectively annulled by someone who votes illegally.
But here’s an inconvenient fact that neither Blackwell or his Fox friends acknowledged: the kinds of restrictive voter laws supported by Republicans in the name of protecting election “integrity” are far more damaging to the rights of eligible voters than the nearly nonexistent phenomenon of individual voter fraud. While activists like Blackwell’s commission colleague Kris Kobach waste time and money trying without success to prove that illegal voting is a dire threat to democracy, their restrictive voting laws and procedures actually deny people the ability to cast their vote.
Kobach’s sweeping request for state information on voters, which has been resisted by many state officials, was an apparent effort to engage in a national version of his Crosscheck program, of which People For the American Way recently noted:
Kobach’s Crosscheck program has been so inaccurate in identifying fraudulent voters that several states stopped using the program. Researchers examining Crosscheck data sent to Iowa officials before the 2012 and 2014 elections found that “200 legitimate voters may be impeded from voting for every double vote stopped.”
Courts repeatedly found that Kobach’s SAFE Act, which imposed a strict “proof of citizenship” requirement on potential voters and blocked the voter registrations of tens of thousands of Kansans, was violating the law.
Blackwell said that the Commission would also be looking at threats to our voting system from foreign interference. It will be telling to see how much time and investigative resources the commission expends on documented Russian meddling in the 2016 election relative to how much it spends trying, yet again, to prove that there is a so-far-invisible wave of illegal voting that justifies restrictive vote-suppressing legislation.