Pence Launches Voter Suppression Tour Ahead of Midterms

In the final week before Election Day, HRC exposed the efforts of Vice President Mike Pence, who was on an apparent tour to campaign for extremists actively working to suppress voters unfavorable to them: gubernatorial candidates Brian Kemp in Georgia, Kris Kobach in Kansas, and Mike DeWine in Ohio, and U.S. senate candidates Josh Hawley in Missouri, Rick Scott in Florida, and Leah Vukmir in Wisconsin.

“Mike Pence has a long and troubling history of silencing those who disagree with him,” said HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy. “In the final week of this campaign, we’re witnessing a sitting vice president actively campaign for candidates with a history of using their office to rob people of their right to vote. This comes nearly a year after the disbandment of Mike Pence’s sham commission on voter fraud, which appeared to enable racist claims of illegal voting by undocumented immigrants.”

Earlier in the week, Pence stumped for DeWine in Ohio, who, as the state’s attorney general, has fought all the way to the Supreme Court to defend a so-called “supplemental process” that removes voters from the rolls if they fail to vote.

The Vice President criss-crossed Georgia for Brian Kemp, who has come under fire in recent weeks for blatantly placing 53,000 voter registrations on hold for “additional screening”–the most majority of them from Black voters–and cancelling 670,000 voter registrations under “voter roll maintenance”. Kemp was caught on audio at a private fundraising event in October expressing concern over Stacey Abrams’ voter turnout operation, “especially if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote”.

Pence campaigned for Josh Hawley in Missouri and Kris Kobach in Kansas. As Attorney General, Hawley appealed a decision by a state circuit court that Missouri’s new law requiring voters without an ID to sign a sworn statement violated the state’s constitution. As Kansas Secretary of State, Kobach blocked 35,000 voters from being able to register and held in contempt of court for skirting a judge’s orders and failing to send postcards confirming the registration of thousands of voters. This year, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson ordered Kobach to take six hours of continuing legal education after his defense of an unconstitutional state requirement that voters show proof of citizenship in order to vote. Kobach was even forced to abandon the Trump-Pence sham voter fraud commission, and was accused by one of its members of  being “willfully blind to the voter fraud in front of his nose.

On Saturday, Pence campaigned for Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis in Florida and Leah Vukmir in Wisconsin. This year, a federal judge ruled that Scott’s effort, while Governor of Florida, to ban early voting on college campuses is unconstitutional and “reveals a stark pattern of discrimination” in his administration. Scott had previously been forced to reverse a decision to exclude the last Sunday before an election day from early voting, a practice known as “Souls to the Polls” used overwhelmingly by Black churches to mobilize their congregations to vote. Scott was also criticized for failing to extend early voting after Hurricane Matthew forced many Floridians to evacuate. Vukmir has been an avid supporter of Wisconsin’s 2011 voter ID law.

HRC’s comprehensive “The Real Mike Pence” campaign includes a report, microsite and series of videos that shine a spotlight on Pence’s decades-long crusade against LGBTQ equality, and inside-the-White-House efforts leading the Trump-Pence administration’s attacks on LGBTQ people.

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