CN November 2 2017

Jessica Droeger and Jeff Radue join us this week. They’re both organizers with Indivisible Chicago, a group that was formed as part of the national mobilization against the Trump presidency.

We discuss a wide range of issues, but our main focus is CrossCheck, the national effort promoted by the White House to identify specifics of voter fraud across the country. Donald Trump claimed after his election that he had, in fact, won the popular vote despite official tallies showing him millions of votes behind Hilary Clinton. But his unsubstantiated claim that he was victimized by millions of fraudulent votes led to his major effort to identify a variety of illegal voting practices, a campaign his critics claim is a thinly-veiled attempt to suppress opposition voting.

“We started our activism with regards to CrossCheck following the letter from Secretary of State of Kansas, Kris Kobach, who was also the vice chair of the Commission of Election Integrity, Radue tells us. “He issued a letter to all 50 states asking that they all submit their voter registration information in their entirety to the Commission for statistical analysis and review and public dissemination. And this was something that troubled our team almost immediately.”

“I mean he has been in the voter suppression business for a long time,” Droeger adds. “He also helped write the Show Me Your Papers law in Arizona where anybody who looked like they might be illegal could be asked for their papers, which smacks of authoritarian regimes, and that was before Trump was even President…So as soon as Trump won Kobach ran immediately to Trump Tower and met with him and told him all this stuff about how there were illegals voting, and right after that is when Trump tweeted about his actual win of the popular vote. And Kobach, we found out recently he tried to hide these documents, but he has been trying to amend the National Voter Registration Act to allow states to require passports or other proofs of citizenship in order for people to register to vote. And that’s something he’s denied, but some courts released the documents, so he’s been in this for a long time and CrossCheck has just been part of it that he’s trying to hold up as an example of what we could do nationally, which is problematic, because as we can tell you it’s a really bad program.”

CrossCheck is plagued with digital security issues, they tell us, that have compromised voters’ personal data, such as name, address, birth date, and partial Social Security numbers. And Illinois has been in the program since 2010.

“I think that we’ve seen following the 2016 election hacking email servers, hacking voter registration servers isn’t out of the realm of possibility for folks that have the tools and the skillset to be able to do something like that, Radue explains. “And the Illinois election officials and CrossCheck election officials have not been using best business practices to protect our voter registration information.”

At this point, Indivisible Chicago is trying to  organize to stop Illinois from sending another batch of data on January 15. “Where we are now is pushing more of the legislative pressure angle. We’ve got over 40 members of the state legislature that have either signed on to a letter or issued a letter of their own to the State Board of Elections demanding that they discontinue their partnership in CrossCheck. On Thursday of last week Senator Durbin and Senator Duckworth joined us by issuing a letter to the State Board of Elections laying out their argument quite succinctly and urging the Board to discontinue its partnership. We’ve had Congressman Gutierrez, Congresswoman Schakowsky join us, and Congressman Quigley has issued a statement on this as well. So we’re working to put pressure on them through our legislators.”

There are now several thousand active Indivisible organizations around the United States similar to the Chicago chapter. Both Droeger and Radue tell us they’d never been politically involved before, and they are really pleased with their new-found activism. But they acknowledge the irony of the role Donald Trump played in triggering it.

“So there’s an argument that can be made,” Radue says, “that the Trump election is the greatest thing that could have happened to the Democratic Party and to social activism in our country. There was this revitalization that happened. Certainly if Hillary Clinton had been elected I don’t think that you would have seen a group like Indivisible actually in existence. They wouldn’t be in existence without this dynamic shift in our culture and our politics in this country. So while I’m certainly struggling with the Trump administration and the GOP agenda, I am heartened by the work that we’ve been able to do within our group to take an active role in our country.”

You can listen to the conversation on SoundCloud here.

And you can read a full transcript HERE: CN transcript November 2 2017


About Ken

Ken's the host of Chicago Newsroom. A former news director, reporter and radio program host, he's also a past Vice President of the Chicago Headline Club.
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