There is often a penalty for believing dumb things.
Terry Lathan should receive one.
Last week, emails from soon-to-be-impeached-President Trump’s so-called “voter fraud commission” were made public for the first time. The short-lived commission, which was abruptly disbanded last January, less than a year after it was established, was set up to root out the massive voter fraud that Trump claimed had cost him the popular vote in 2016.
Heading what was the stupidest commission of all time was Kris Kobach, the author of numerous states’ anti-immigration and anti-voter bills — almost all of which have been ripped to shreds by various courts.
The commission was a scam from the start. It had to be since it was investigating something that is not real — that being in-person voter fraud.
This is the sort of voter fraud that voter ID laws are supposed to prevent. The only kind of fraud that ID laws can prevent.
Yet, it is so rare, you have a better chance of being struck by lightning than finding an instance of in-person voter fraud. There has been one case of it in Alabama in more than 20 years.
And so, when the commission was formed, everyone just sort of knew that it was bogus — nothing more than the man-child who had recently taken office using his newfound power to make good on his drunken Twitter promises.
Even the commission itself seemed to know that it wasn’t, like, a real commission. It took one official action.
That action was mailing a letter to every secretary of state in the U.S., asking that they forward to the commission their state’s voting roll.
All of it. Names. Addresses. The whole deal.
And almost all secretaries of state laughed and dropped the request in the trash can on their way to lunch.
Mississippi’s SOS, Delbert Hosemann, for example, told the commission to — and I want to get the wording right here — “go jump in the Gulf.” He’s a Republican.
Alabama’s SOS, John Merrill, not exactly known for his liberal ways, also denied the request — although, he was far less colorful than Hosemann, which is disappointing for a guy who is so snippy on Twitter.
The reason Merrill, and 43 other secretaries of state, denied the request was because Kobach’s commission requested far more detailed info than what’s typically available. In addition to names and addresses, the commission wanted phone numbers, partial social security numbers, military records and driver’s license numbers.
Merrill took it a step further, also refusing to simply hand over the publicly available list, saying the commission could purchase it, since the full printout would cost more than $32,000.
So, there you have it. Our voting records and personal info are safe and sound in Alabama … right?
Enter: Lathan, the chairman of the Alabama Republican Party.
When Merrill declined, Lathan stepped in.
Emails first reported by ProPublica on Friday show that on Aug. 21, 2017 — a full month after Merrill said he wouldn’t turn over the info because of security concerns — Lathan wrote to Kobach to say she and the ALGOP had no problem placing party over country.
“The ALGOP will honor your request and have a full state voter pull for the commission you chair,” Lathan wrote to Kobach. Kobach responded a day later, thanking her for the help.
It’s unclear whether the information was ever actually sent to the commission by Lathan and her staff. Subsequent emails show a staff member preparing to send the rolls, but there is no email confirming receipt.
For his part, Merrill told ProPublica that he was unaware that Lathan was going behind his back, and he said any voter list she might have would be several months old.
But see, that doesn’t matter. Because Terry Lathan believes a dumb thing.
And because she believes a dumb thing, she did a dumb thing in order to help a dumb commission that’s chaired by a dumb person and only exists because another dumb person made a dumb statement.
And now, a little more than a year after this commission was formed, here’s what we have: there was ZERO evidence of in-person voter fraud uncovered by this commission; several lawsuits were filed over the disbursement of the voter roll information; and Alabama voters may very have had their sensitive personal info sent to an entity that had no plan in place to protect that information.
All because some people insist on believing a dumb thing.