Former Dem Senate candidate launches voting rights group

Former Dem Senate candidate launches voting rights group
© Getty
Jason Kander, the Missouri Democrat who narrowly lost a Senate bid last year, is jumping back into national politics with a new organization aimed at protecting voting rights. 
 
The former Missouri secretary of state’s new group, "Let America Vote," aims to win “the public debate over voter suppression” as Democrats continue to coalesce around voting rights in the wake of calls by President Trump for an investigation into his claim, presented without evidence, that millions of illegal votes were cast in 2016. 
 
“Voting in our country has never been easy, and unfortunately it’s never been guaranteed for everyone,” Kander said Tuesday in a statement pointing to the progress made by “brave civil rights leaders.”
 
“Today, that progress is in danger as laws targeting low-income and minority voters continue popping up across the country. Let America Vote will make the case for voting rights by exposing the real motivations of those who favor voter suppression laws.”
 
Kander, one of the Democratic Party's top recruits in the 2016 cycle, ran a close race in red-state Missouri but ultimately lost to Republican Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntDems push for more money for opioid fight Trump asked Senate Republicans to end Russia election interference investigation: report An overlooked solution to the opioid epidemic MORE. One of his campaign ads, which featured the former Army captain assembling a rifle blindfolded while talking about his belief in finding a common ground on gun control, became one of the most popular ads of the election cycle. 
 
ADVERTISEMENT
Kander styles his new nonprofit as a way to keep up political pressure on the issue, warning that “politicians intent on denying certain Americans the right to vote will first have to consider the political consequences.”
 
Democrats have long decried Republican efforts to enact voter ID laws, restrictions on early voting and other tactics as attempts to suppress Democratic voters. Republicans counter that pushing issues like voter ID is necessary to ensure accountability and protect from voter fraud, although multiple studies have found that actual voter fraud is incredibly rare.
 
Democratic efforts against what they see as voter suppression laws were complicated by a 2013 Supreme Court ruling invalidating much of the Voting Rights Act, freeing up nine states to change their voting laws without federal approval.
 
Recent efforts by Kander and other groups like Priorities USA, the super PAC that supported Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGrassley blasts Democrats over unwillingness to probe Clinton GOP lawmakers cite new allegations of political bias in FBI Top intel Dem: Trump Jr. refused to answer questions about Trump Tower discussions with father MORE's presidential bid, show progressives reshuffling their artillery toward the issue of voting rights after an election where Clinton lost the Electoral College despite winning the popular vote. 
 
The nonprofit’s advisory board reads like a who’s who of progressive politics. EMILY’s List’s Stephanie Schriock, Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s Cecile Richards, campaign finance activist Zephyr Teachout, human rights activist Martin Luther King III and Campaign Legal Center Director of Voting Rights and Redistricting Gerry Hebert all are part of the board. 
 
Three Obama administration officials are also on board: Josh Earnest, Jon Favreau and Dan Pfeiffer. 
 
Democratic elections lawyer Marc Elias and Priorities USA super PAC chairman Guy Cecil are part of the board as well — the two men joined forces last month when Priorities launched an effort to fund voting-rights lawsuits across the country. 
 
Kander announced he will join Priorities' board to support the group's efforts and will also partner with fellow board member Ellen Kurz and her organization, iVote.