Project Vote to Trump Administration: Leave the NVRA Alone

By Project Vote November 21, 2016
Photograph showing Kris Kobach carrying a document entitled “Department of Homeland Security — Kobach Strategic Plan for First 365 Days.” The legible portion of the final item on the top page reads, “Draft Amendments to National Vot—” (Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Today, photographs surfaced of Kris Kobach, advisor to Donald Trump, carrying a strategic plan for the first 365 days of the Homeland Security department. This document appears to include an action-item reading “Draft Amendments to National Voter Registration Act.” Today, Project Vote president Michael Slater issued the following statement in response:

“The 2016 election was the first in more than 50 years in which Americans had to struggle to exercise their constitutional right to vote without the federal protections of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). Now, while the votes from that election are still being counted, Donald Trump’s team is already scheming to attack the other critical federal law protecting American voters, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA).

“That the Trump administration would turn its sights on the NVRA now is both sadly unsurprising and completely unacceptable. The NVRA is one of the most important and successful voter registration laws in American history, designed and enacted—with strong bi-partisan support—to reverse the effects of decades of discriminatory voter registration practices. Best known for its “motor voter” components—which have enabled tens of millions of citizens to easily register to vote through DMVs and other government agencies—the NVRA also created a simple federal voter registration form, established standards for voter list maintenance, and provided voters with legal protection from wrongful voter purges.

“The NVRA has been an unqualified success, both in reaching underrepresented populations and in protecting American citizens from bureaucratic voter suppression schemes. Any attempt to alter it now could only come from the most shameless of partisan motives: a callous desire to reinstall, in our democracy, the very sorts of institutionalized inequities the NVRA was designed to combat.

“We do not know exactly what ‘amendments’ Kris Kobach is hoping to add to the NVRA, but we know—all too well—the agenda of voter suppression to which he has dedicated his entire career. We know that his highly flawed Interstate Crosscheck data-matching scheme has disenfranchised countless numbers of eligible Americans, particularly Americans of color. We know that he has spent a great deal of time, energy, and tax-payer dollars fighting to keep eligible citizens from accessing the ballot through draconian voter ID and proof-of-citizenship requirements, which purport to combat invented problems like voter impersonation and non-citizen voting, and which further disenfranchise voters of color.

“And we know, too, that the only thing that has kept Kris Kobach’s voter suppression schemes in check is the NVRA.

“Project Vote has been defending and enforcing the NVRA for over a decade. We have fought one successful court battle after another to ensure that men like Kris Kobach do not rob the law of its power and, in turn, rob American citizens of their votes. We have no intention of stopping now. We urge the Trump administration to leave this vital law in place and unmolested, and we vow to fight them at every turn if they do not.”