Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Ahead of Pence-Kobach Commission Meeting, New CAP Report Examines Illegal Voter Purges and Documentary Proof of Citizenship
Press Release

RELEASE: Ahead of Pence-Kobach Commission Meeting, New CAP Report Examines Illegal Voter Purges and Documentary Proof of Citizenship

Washington, D.C. — On May 11, President Donald Trump signed an executive order establishing a sham commission investigating American voters and so-called voter fraud, led by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. The commission, which includes a who’s who of voter suppressors that seek to block eligible Americans from registering to vote and improperly remove them from the voter rolls, is preparing for their first meeting this Wednesday, July 19.

Today, the Center for American Progress has released a report examining the voter suppression impact of documentary proof of citizenship requirements and illegal voter purges—measures that members of the Election Integrity Commission have advocated for—that keep eligible Americans from participating in elections and having their voices heard.

Per the report, Secretary Kobach’s documentary proof of citizenship requirement threatened the voter registrations of more than 30,000 people, which was 14 percent of all voter registration applications in Kansas from 2013 to 2016. Meanwhile, a recent report by the bipartisan U.S. Election Assistance Commission found a 12.8 percent increase in the number of voters purged from state voter rolls between 2014 and 2016, compared with between 2012 and 2014. In all, 1.9 million more people were purged during that period compared with between 2012 and 2014.

“Documentary proof of citizenship requirements and illegal voter purges have the potential to negatively affect all eligible Americans, which ultimately undermines our democratic process. In particular, they disproportionately impact people of color, and given that our country’s demographic make-up is rapidly shifting to a minority-majority population, this is something policymakers and concerned citizens must take very seriously,” said Danielle Root, voting rights manager at CAP and co-author of the report.

Specifically, nearly 9 percent of voting age African Americans—around 2 million people—lack access to birth certificates and passports, compared with 5.5 percent of whites, says the report. For example, in a purge in Georgia between July 2013 and July 2016, nearly 35,000 voter registrations were canceled or placed in “pending status” and slated for removal for discrepancies—as minor as an out-of-place hyphen, space, or apostrophe—in voter registration forms. Nearly 64 percent of those targeted were African Americans, making them eight times more likely to be affected by the purge than whites, while Asian Americans and Latinos were more than six times more likely than white voters to be affected.

“The integrity of our elections depends on the ability of all eligible Americans to have their voices heard and participate in self-government,” said Liz Kennedy, director of democracy and government reform at CAP and co-author of the report. “Instead, President Trump and his sham commission are laying the groundwork for a federal assault on voting, at a time when overly burdensome anti-voter requirements already keep hundreds of thousands of American citizens from exercising their power at the polls. The federal government should be leading the way on reinvesting in the infrastructure of American elections and advancing voter participation through common-sense steps such as automatic voter registration. We will continue to fight against politically motivated tricks that keep eligible Americans off the voter rolls.”

On top of not requiring documentary proof of citizenship or engaging in illegal purges, CAP’s recommendations for states include:

  • Adopting automatic voter registration (AVR)
  • Participating in the Election Registration Information Center (ERIC)
  • Securing America’s election infrastructure
  • Complying with the National Voter Registration Act

Click here to access the report.

Click here to RSVP to CAP’s upcoming Wednesday 19 event with secretaries of state and voting rights advocates, “Attacks and Advances in Voter Registration.”

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, please contact Tanya Arditi at or 202.741.6258.