When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies?
— Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote de la Mancha
In the novel, Don Quixote is remembered for, among other things, tilting at windmills he believed to be hostile giants, as he travelled through Spain in search of perceived evils he could remedy, or people he could help. Instead of tilting at windmills, believing them to be giants, our very own DonTrumpoté, has been tilting at windmills by insisting that voter fraud is rampant in the United States. To rid the country of this evil, he has appointed a commission to study this non-existent problem and recommend solutions. By creating a commission to investigate a non-existent problem, Don Trumpoté guarantees that the perceived, but nonexistent evil of voter fraud, will remain on the front burner of the stove on which Don Trumpoté cooks all his facts.
To accompany him on his travels, and help him accomplish the goals he had set for himself, Don Quixote enlisted the help of Sancho Panza, a simple man who, unlike Don Quixote, was not delusional. When Don Trumpoté decided to attack voter fraud and established the “Advisory Commission on Election Integrity,” he asked Sancho Kobach, to serve as the vice chair of the commission. At this point, and in fairness to Don Quixote’s Sancho Panza, it should be noted that Sancho Panza did not share Don Quixote’s delusions and, recognized that Don Quixote did not see things as they were. Sancho Kobach, by contrast, is every bit as delusional as Don Trumpoté, and had established his credentials in tilting at voter fraud prior to his appointment to the commission.
Sancho Kobach aka Kris Kobach, is the Kansas Secretary of State, and in that capacity has actively sought to eliminate and then prevent non-existent voter fraud. A Kansas law known as the Secure and Fair Elections Law was passed by the Kansas legislature to protect the state from nonexistent voter fraud. It was struck down by a federal court, insofar as it pertained to federal elections, and in striking it down, the judge observed that: “There is evidence of only three instances where noncitizens actually voted in a federal election between 1995 and 2013.” The judge further observed that during that same period, only 14 non-citizens attempted to vote. Although Sancho intended to appeal, he feared no favorable ruling could be obtained before the 2016 general election. He prevailed on the Kansas Rules and Regulation board to issue a temporary regulation in July 2016, to make it more difficult for people to vote, hoping that would prevent fraud in Kansas in the upcoming elections.
In early February 2017, White House Policy Advisor, Stephen Miller, was interviewed on an ABC Sunday morning show. When asked about Don Trumpeto’s claims of massive voter fraud during the 2016 election, Mr. Miller suggested that Sancho Kobach should be invited on to the show “because he can walk you through some of the evidence of voter fraud in greater detail.” The next day Sancho Kobach was interviewed on CNN by Kate Boduan, and was unable to provide any evidence of millions of cases of voter fraud. He did, however, say that in Kansas alone, six people had pled guilty to the crime of voting in two states, an indication, in Sancho’s mind, of rampant voter fraud. He was unable to provide any other evidence of massive voter fraud, but promised it would be forthcoming. The country is still waiting.
In addition to the federal judge who ruled in the Kansas case, Sancho Kobach’s belief in voter fraud is belied by the number of federal court cases that have examined the question. In one case in the U.S. court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the court observed, in a voting rights case before it, that in Arizona and Kansas “only a tiny fraction of one percent of registered voters were non-citizens.” In a Washington Post article in early December 2016, the paper found that there were four documented cases of voter fraud in the 2016 election.
Vice president Pence is chairing the advisory commission, but it is almost certainly Sancho who will be the actual leader since he has nothing else to do with his time. Mr. Pence said the commission would “review ways to strengthen the integrity of elections in order to protect and preserve the principle of one person, one vote, because the integrity of the vote is the foundation of our democracy.”
Commenting on the appointment of Sancho to the advisory commission, Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said that Sancho “might use his position on the presidential commission to sow doubt about the integrity of elections and then push to amend federal voting law to require proof of citizenship. . . . I mean, he’s the king of voter suppression.” Marc Veasey, co-chair of the House Voting Rights Caucus said: “During Secretary Kobach’s term, the state of Kansas implemented a severely restrictive voter ID law designed to discourage and suppress voters rather than assure fair elections. We all have reason to be wary of his intentions in leading this commission.”
At the end of the novel, Sancho Panza accompanies Don Quixote back to his home where, restored to sanity, he developed a fever that led to his death. Don Quixote’s bout with madness had no effect on Spain. It affected only Don Quixote. It is too bad that cannot be said about the madness of Don Trumpoté and Sancho Kobach.