Trump's voter fraud commission flagged Texans with Hispanic surnames

Trump advisor who was recently arrested on child pornography charges requested "Hispanic surname flag notation"

Published January 23, 2018 5:45PM (EST)

 (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

President Donald Trump's now-disbanded voter fraud commission — convened based on the myth that 3 million undocumented immigrants in California illegally handed Hillary Clinton the popular vote win, and already rife with controversy — specifically requested and purchased records of every Texas voter with a Hispanic surname.

Newly released Government Affairs Committee records showed that Trump's so-called Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity requested in-depth voter registration data from every state, but singled out the state of Texas, and went even further by asking the state to "identify all voters with Hispanic surnames," the Washington Post reported:

In buying nearly 50 million records from the state with the nation’s second-largest Hispanic population, a researcher for the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity checked a box on two Texas public voter data request forms explicitly asking for the “Hispanic surname flag notation,” to be included in information sent to the voting commission, according to copies of the signed and notarized state forms.

The White House said that none of the data was ever given to them because of a lawsuit from a voting rights advocacy group in the state. Kris Kobach, who led the commission, claims he was unaware of the request made by a former Trump policy adviser who was recently arrested and charged on child pornography charges.

A commission policy adviser, Ronald Williams, checked a box on two Texas voter request forms which explicitly requested the "Hispanic surname flag notation" to be sent along with the rest of the data, the Post reported. On Sept. 22, the panel paid Texas officials roughly $3,500 "for 49.6 million records that were to include lists of voters who were active, those with canceled registrations, and those with an outdated or incorrect address on file; and a list of those who voted in the past six general elections from 2006 through 2016." Surnames that were Hispanic were also flagged.

The now-defunct commission's vice chairman denied reports that Hispanic surnames were flagged.

"At no time did the commission request any state to flag surnames by ethnicity or race. It’s a complete surprise to me," Kobach, Kansas' Republican Secretary of State, told the Post. Once he was informed of the records that showed the data was purchased, Kobach attempted to distance Williams from the panel.

"Mr. Williams did not ask any member of the commission whether he should check that box or not, so it certainly wasn’t a committee decision." Kobach said.

Trump started the first month of the new year by signing an executive order that dissolved his voter fraud commission, even though he continued to make baseless assertions that there was evidence of widespread voter fraud by undocumented immigrants in the 2016 presidential election. The commission faced numerous lawsuits and the White House has said it would destroy all collected data before, though it never detailed any purchases, the Post reported.

Critics have repeatedly slammed the president's voter fraud panel as an attempt to suppress voters. Trump has already demonstrated his eagerness to crack down on voting rights, and the Republican Party has a well-documented history of it.

By Charlie May

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