Obama-era civil rights official warns: Voter purges coming

A former head of the Department of Justice's (DOJ) civil rights division is arguing that President Trump's fraud commission is laying the groundwork for a voter purge that could hit minority communities the hardest.

In a Wednesday op-ed in The New York Times, Vanita Gupta, who served in the Obama administration, referenced a letter sent by the DOJ that requested information from 44 states about their voter rolls and how they are maintained. The letter’s focus on the maintenance of the lists, Gupta argued, is “a prelude to voter purging.”

“These parallel efforts show us exactly how the Trump administration will undertake its enormous voter suppression campaign: through voter purges,” Gupta wrote. “The voter rolls are the key. Registration is one of the main gateways to political participation. It is the difference between a small base of voters pursuing a narrow agenda and an electorate that looks like America.”

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Gutpa’s op-ed comes on the same day as the first meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which Trump created after making unsubstantiated claims that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election.

Gupta, who is now the president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said her “biggest fear” is that the administration will produce a report with “unsupported claims of illegal voting, focused on communities of color.”

“These wild claims won’t be just hot air. Members of Congress will seize on them to turn back protections in federal law,” she wrote. “States will enact new barriers to the ballot box. Courts will point to the commission’s work to justify their decisions.”

Dozens of states refused to adhere to a commission request for sensitive voter information, which the administration sent to the District of Columbia and all 50 states. The commission reportedly halted its request for the information last week over various legal challenges.

The commission’s request for information has been met with condemnation by Democratic lawmakers. Several top House Democrats on Tuesday asked Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceSunday shows preview: 2020 candidates look to South Carolina The Democratic nominee won't be democratically chosen The Hill's Campaign Report: What to watch for in Nevada MORE to remove Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) from the commission and withdraw the request for sensitive information.