POLITICS
08/10/2017 05:36 pm ET

Civil Rights Group Wants To Know If DOJ And Trump Voter Fraud Probe Are Working Together

The timing of two letters sent from the department and the commission raised eyebrows.

A civil rights group is seeking evidence of collaboration between President Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission and the Department of Justice on voter purging after both entities sent out letters to states on the same day in June.

The left-leaning Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which is suing Trump’s voter fraud probe, filed a public records request Thursday with the Justice Department seeking any communication between department officials and members of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Election Integrity. The move comes after the department sent out an unusually broad request to 44 states on June 28 asking about their compliance with procedures for kicking people off the voter rolls outlined in federal law. That same day, the commission sent a letter to election officials in all 50 states requesting they turn over publicly available voter information.

The timing of the letters raised suspicion of coordination, but the Justice Department said last month there was no connection and the two efforts were independent of each other. 

Former Justice Department officials have said the department usually targeted specific states it believed weren’t complying with federal law for maintaining voter lists. A broad request could signal the department is getting ready to launch an enforcement campaign against states.

Earlier this week, the department reversed its position in a major case before the Supreme Court dealing with voter purging. While the department previously supported a challenge to an Ohio purging process that’s initiated when voters don’t engage in election activity, Justice Department lawyers said in a Monday filing the process was legal. The 1993 National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) prohibits removing voters from the rolls simply because they haven’t voted.

J. Christian Adams, a conservative member of Trump’s voter fraud probe, released a statement Wednesday praising DOJ’s change in position.

“The State of Ohio is taking full advantage of its powers outlined in federal and state law to proactively manage voter rolls,” Adams said in the statement. “Federal law doesn’t prohibit common sense. After a registrant has failed to respond to notices and not vote in multiple elections, they may be cleaned from the rolls. The interest groups arguing otherwise are keeping voter rolls filled with dead and ineligible voters.”

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), the commission’s vice chair, has also worked on efforts to amend the NVRA. In his state, Kobach backed a law creating a “suspense list” if voters were unable to prove their citizenship within 90 days of their voter application. A federal court stepped in last year to force the state to allow 20,000 people to vote who had registered without proof of citizenship.

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