CNN's Cuomo Frets 'Chilling Effect' of GOP Pushing Voter ID

On Wednesday's New Day on CNN, as Missouri Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft appeared as a guest, co-host Chris Cuomo wrongly claimed that Missouri Republicans were pushing new voter ID efforts during an election as he suggested that they were doing so to deter people from voting through a "chilling effect." In fact, as his guest corrected him on the matter, Missouri holds most of its higher-profile elections in even years, meaning the new law has gone into effect more than a year in advance of a more significant election season.

And, as the two discussed the Trump administrations recent request for each state's voter roll information, the CNN host tried to undermine the rationale for studying voter fraud by repeatedly bringing up President Donald Trump's controversial claim that three million people voted illegally, as if the claim were the only significant justification for looking at the issue.

About halfway through the 11-minute segment, Cuomo began lecturing his Republican guest on the timing of the new Missouri voter ID law:

But if that's all you want, is to make sure that you have the most full participation and the fairest election, you wouldn't be doing this. You would be doing all you can to encourage all the eligible voters you have who don't vote to vote. But you're not doing that. If you really cared about voter ID you would do it at a time outside an election cycle because, when you do ID during an election cycle, as we both know -- we've see it go all the way to the Supreme Court now with the North Carolina case -- it has a chilling effect. 

The liberal CNN host added:

You keep people home -- you have people who don't have ID. So if you really care, why don't you try to get the eligible voters to come out and participate? Why don't you do voter ID outside the election cycle so it doesn't have a chilling effect? You're not doing those things. Why?

Ashcroft corrected the CNN host on the Missouri law as he responded:

<<< Please support MRC's NewsBusters team with a tax-deductible contribution today. >>>

Well, actually, we're implementing voter ID right now before we get back in cycle for a U.S. Senate race and a statewide state auditor race next year. And we've done it in such a way that we can tell you that if you're a registered voter in the state of Missouri, under our voter ID law, you will be allowed to vote. In fact, the former Boone County clerk who was one of the lead plaintiffs in throwing out our photo ID law 10 years ago has now come to our side and stood up and said, "This is a good law. It's implemented correctly." It protects against fraud, it makes it harder to cheat, but it makes sure that every registered voter can vote. 

He added:

We should want to know that if you're a registered voter, you can vote, and that your vote will count. And as we've been going around the state making sure that people are informed about that, we've also been trying to sign up more people to be a part of the process. The more people we have from whatever background, whatever belief system, as long as we're all trying to find what's best for our state and our country, the more voices we'll have and the better off we'll be.

In fact, the new Missouri law allows voters without photo ID other ways of proving their identity like using utility bills or pay checks. Additionally, those without ID can cast provisional ballots so there is no reason for any eligible voter to not show up and vote.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portions of the Wednesday, July 5, New Day on CNN:

CHRIS CUOMO: That's Kentucky's secretary of state saying there's not enough bourbon in Kentucky for her to go with this request made by President Trump's election integrity commission. This morning, 44 states are refusing to hand over certain voter information to the panel. The commission asked for information including the names of voters, their dates of birth, party affiliation, and the last four digits of their Social Security numbers. Joining us now, Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft. He is one of the secretaries who planned to comply with the request. Why comply, sir? And thank you for joining us.

[SECRETARY OF STATE JAY ASHCROFT (R-MO)]

But they are asking for those last four Social Security digits, are they not?

[ASHCROFT]

So you're not going to turn over the Social Security numbers in full?

[ASHCROFT]

All right, so you're going to follow the law. You're not going to give any information the law does not allow for. And then you get to the policy concerns of, "Why take part in this at all when it seems to be searching for an answer to the President's claim that there were three million illegal votes?" -- which you know and I know is a baseless claim.

[ASHCROFT]

Right, you want the integrity of the system to be as good as possible. This is usually controlled by the states. There's very little that the federal government could do. And, as you know, when you've gone around the state making the case for your efforts, you really only have one case that you can cite. And that doesn't mean that you shouldn't try to do better. But it does mean that you shouldn't blow the problem out of proportion. And the President said there were three million illegal votes. There's absolutely zero proof of that. And why waste time and money with a commission to look at fraud when you don't have a major fraud issue?

ASHCROFT: Well, first of all, we have far more than just once instance. I'd be happy for you to come to Missouri --

CUOMO: No, you had one case. When you get pushed, you fall back on one case.

ASHCROFT: No, sir, we haven't. I mean, we've had multiple cases just in the six months that I've been the secretary of state here -- and I'd be happy to go through those with you. If you'd like to come to Missouri, we can show you instances that we've had of it. It is, unfortunately, an occurrence. I mean, it used to be the old joke was --

CUOMO: But I'm talking about voter impersonation. What we're worried about with illegal votes is what? It's somebody saying that they're able to vote impersonating someone else and then voting. You have one case of that -- true or false?

ASHCROFT: Actually, I think that we should be worried about any illegal votes.

CUOMO: No, we should, but in terms of the three million --

ASHCROFT: You know, far too often, government officials believe that a good election is where they win and their opponent loses. That's not true. A good election is where the voters of the state or the voters of the nation make the decision. And that's all I want. I want the voters to make the decision and to know that their vote counts.

CUOMO: But if that's all you want, is to make sure that you have the most full participation and the fairest election, you wouldn't be doing this. You would be doing all you can to encourage all the eligible voters you have who don't vote to vote. But you're not doing that. If you really cared about voter ID --

ASHCROFT: Well, actually, I've been touring the state trying to get --

CUOMO: -- you would do it at a time outside an election cycle because, when you do ID during an election cycle, as we both know -- we've see it go all the way to the Supreme Court now with the North Carolina case -- it has a chilling effect. You keep people home -- you have people who don't have ID. So if you really care, why don't you try to get the eligible voters to come out and participate? Why don't you do voter ID outside the election cycle so it doesn't have a chilling effect? You're not doing those things. Why?

ASHCROFT: Well, actually, we're implementing voter ID right now before we get back in cycle for a U.S. Senate race and a statewide state auditor race next year. And we've done it in such a way that we can tell you that if you're a registered voter in the state of Missouri, under our voter ID law, you will be allowed to vote. In fact, the former Boone County clerk who was one of the lead plaintiffs in throwing out our photo ID law 10 years ago has now come to our side and stood up and said, "This is a good law. It's implemented correctly." It protects against fraud, it makes it harder to cheat, but it makes sure that every registered voter can vote. And that's what we should all want. 

We should want to know that if you're a registered voter, you can vote, and that your vote will count. And as we've been going around the state making sure that people are informed about that, we've also been trying to sign up more people to be a part of the process. The more people we have from whatever background, whatever belief system, as long as we're all trying to find what's best for our state and our country, the more voices we'll have and the better off we'll be.

CUOMO: So why do you think so many secretaries of state are refusing to do what you're doing, including Republicans? Let me put up a statement for you to respond to.

They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico, and Mississippi is a great state to launch from. Mississippi residents should celebrate Independence Day and our state's right to protect the right of our citizens by conducting our own electoral processes.

There you got the secretary of state, a Republican there. They don't want to do this, they say, because "this is our business. States do this, and we're not going to participate in this ruse of searching for a problem where there is none."

ASHCROFT: Well, first of all, we do know vote fraud occurs --

CUOMO: But it happens on a very small scale. There must be a list of priorities for you to take on as secretary of state that have much more impact on your state than voter fraud.

ASHCROFT: Well, I think I'm responsible to do a lot of things at once as secretary of state. I think that people elected me to do that, and I'm going to do that. But I also think that anytime elections are changed based on voter fraud, that's a problem. And we've had that occur in Missouri -- it's been demonstrated. But, secondly, I think we can both agree that, whether or not there is vote fraud, what amount it occurs in, has been something where there are smart, good people on both sides of the disagreement.

CUOMO: No, I don't accept that as a premise. This is not a 50-50 proposition where "maybe it's three million, maybe it isn't." There are no numbers anywhere like that coming from anywhere that deserves respect except the President's mouth. He owned this as an explanation for the popular vote results. And, other than that, we know the studies. You know them. They've been cited to you many times. You can't substantiate the allegation with anything other than the President's own words.

ASHCROFT: Actually I can substantiate the allegations and the actual occurrence of vote fraud in Missouri. And the funny things is that in the studies --

CUOMO: But you have a paucity of cases. You have a paucity of cases.

ASHCROFT: In the studies you cite, none of them include these vote fraud occurrences that happened in the state of Missouri, which right there points to a problem.

CUOMO: But it's your strongest reckoning, Secretary of State. You have a handful of cases. You can't make this a problem of any specific dimension or scope. You don't have the cases -- you don't have the proof. I'm not saying you don't have any cases -- I'm not saying you don't have a problem. Every state has problems. There's almost zero chance that our votes are accurate, but it's not a widespread problem. It's not something that you're dealing with on a major scale. Isn't that just the truth?

[ASHCROFT]

CUOMO: That's just so ripe for being misleading. Obviously the goal would be 100 percent accuracy, right? That's what I'm talking about. That's what you would be talking about as the ultimate goal. We're not there yet, but, look, let's just deal with it as a problem on its face. How many cases have you seen brought to a point of conviction that deal with voter fraud? In your state? In your state?

ASHCROFT: See, right there, one of the problems we have is getting convictions.

CUOMO: I know -- because you don't have good cases. That's what they say in the study. You only have a handful of convictions because, once you go all the way through the rest of the process, they fall away. That's my point.

ASHCROFT: Actually they don't. I mean, the most recent case that I would cite goes directly against what you're saying is we had an individual who tried to vote two ballots. They put two ballots into the voting box. They signed an affidavit that admitted that they had done it, but then they got to the witness stand and said, "Well, you know, I have these prior problems. I have these difficulties in life." And the jurors said, "You know, we don't want to convict this person. They did it -- we know they did it -- we can prove it." And then, when you talk about in-person vote fraud or voter impersonation, if you will, we have the evidence. We have the signed poll book that doesn't match. We have the signed registration --

CUOMO: Right, but it's just the number of cases -- obviously, you want to aspire to be better. Look, when the President made an issue and then the White House then came out and said -- or his campaign team at the time had said, "You know, a lot of people are registered in two different places." He had staffers who were registered in two different places. This is -- the concern is that: Are you just chasing after something to validate a myth? Or are you actually going to make that system better? We will see when the results of this commission come out, depending on the rates of participation. And, Mr. Secretary of State, you are welcome back anytime to validate the efforts.

NB Daily CNN New Day Video Chris Cuomo Donald Trump


Sponsored Links