Former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander (D) announced Tuesday that he is starting an advocacy group to punish elected officials who advance restrictions on the right to vote.
The group, called Let America Vote, will aim to win over public opinion in defense of voting rights. In a statement, Kander said that lawmakers who pass voter restrictions should face “political consequences.”
“Let America Vote will make the case for voting rights by exposing the real motivations of those who favor voter suppression laws. For the first time, politicians intent on denying certain Americans the right to vote will first have to consider the political consequences,” he said.
Let America Vote launches as President Donald Trump is still insisting there was widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election. Although there is no evidence to support that claim, Trump has pledged a federal investigation, led by Vice President Mike Pence. Meanwhile, a number of states continue to push voter ID laws that make it more difficult for low-income, minority and elderly Americans to cast ballots.
Before leaving office, President Barack Obama criticized efforts to restrict the franchise, saying they were tied to the legacy of Jim Crow and slavery in the United States. Several former Obama administration officials, including Press Secretary Josh Earnest, speechwriter Jon Favreau and senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer will serve on Let America Vote’s 27-member advisory board.
“It’s a simple proposition: politicians should have to answer for cynically trying to gain a political advantage by making it harder for eligible Americans to vote. Leaders are supposed to serve their constituents, not disenfranchise them,” Earnest said in a statement.
Proponents of voter ID laws argue that they’re necessary to prevent voter fraud. But several studies and investigations, including one by the Department of Justice, have found in-person voter fraud to be exceptionally rare.
Last year, federal courts struck down voter ID laws in Wisconsin, Texas and North Carolina. But Iowa, Nebraska, Arkansas and other states are still considering voter ID proposals. In Virginia, which already has a voter photo ID law, legislators are advancing a bill that would require residents to show proof of citizenship when they register to vote.
Kander lost his bid to unseat Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) last year, but has been moving to raise his profile within the Democratic Party. Before leaving office last month, he gave a speech to the state legislature in which he criticized Republicans for passing a voter ID law.
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