Former Attorney General Eric Holder unloaded Monday on President Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission, blasting its leader Kris Kobach as a "fact-challenged zealot" during an address to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
“This commission, led by a fact-challenged zealot, will come up with bogus reasons why further restrictions should be placed on the right to vote,” said Holder, who served under former President Barack Obama. “This commission is up to no good.”
Trump’s panel, formally known as the Presidential Advisory Commission on Electoral Integrity, held its first formal meeting last week amid significant controversy over the background of many of its members and over Kobach’s request that every state send the commission voter data, including partial social security numbers and information on felony convictions.
Holder said the voter fraud narrative that the Trump administration is advancing adds to voter suppression techniques, such as the recent crop of voter identification laws. Holder said studies have found that these barriers disproportionately suppress people who are young, minorities or poor.
“Too many in this country are trying to make it too hard, to make it too difficult for the people,” said Holder, who headed up the Justice Department from 2009 to 2015. “Let me be frank. Voter fraud did not become an issue in North Carolina, as in other places, until people of color started to cast ballots in record numbers.”
He cited the Brennan Center for Justice’s statistic that people are more likely to be struck by lightning than to illegally cast a ballot and said without any statistical proof of voter fraud, the nation should not focus on “phantom illegal voters” and should instead work toward registering more people who are eligible to vote.
“People of good faith, people grounded in facts — not alternative facts, which need to be called what they are: lies — people of good faith really have to ask, ‘Where is the problem?’,” Holder said. “The restrictive voting laws enacted to combat a next-to-nonexistent problem with their serious and negative collateral impacts are not needed.”
He commended the over 40 states that refused to fully comply with the commission’s request for information and said that people should not take the right to vote for granted.
“Speak out, don’t be afraid, don’t worry about being the subject of a tweet,” Holder said. “We must use our best efforts to ensure that this most essential of American rights, the right to vote, is protected for this and protected for future generations.”
The White House did not respond to a request for comment on Holder’s critique.