No, “Liberal Professors” are Not “Trad[ing] Secret Emails” About Trump Voter Fraud Commission

A breathless Free Beacon story (like stories on Breitbart and the Daily Caller) points to Professor Lorraine Minnite’s efforts via the Election Law listserv to enlist other election law academics and professionals to organize a counter effort to Trump’s “voter fraud” commission.

The Free Beacon story is worse than the others because it tries to market Professor Minnite’s efforts as part of some secret conspiracy. The headline is: “Liberal Professors Trade Secret Emails in Effort to Undermine Trump Commission.”

To begin with, the Election Law listserv, which I have managed with Professor Dan Lowenstein since 1994, has over 1000 members, and many of them are not “liberal professors.” Certainly Jim Bopp and Brad Smith, who are active participants on the list, are no one’s liberals. Nor is Lowenstein himself.

Second, the email is not secret. It is publicly posted in the listserv’s archives.

Third, the idea of forming a counter commission to Trump’s faux “voter fraud” commission is neither new or private. On January 25, I wrote at Slate:

Baseless allegations of voter fraud hurt our democracy. You would think after the Department of Justice under President George W. Bush spent five years investigating voter fraud with nothing to show for it, the voter fraud canard would have been put to bed years ago. This call for a major investigation, if done fairly, could finally put the issue to bed. Let’s not fool ourselves into believing President Trump would order a fair investigation. But if he doesn’t, we will need a shadow investigation to counter whatever a Trump commission might put out to support its boss’ baseless conclusions.

 (My emphasis.)
So why was Prof. Minnite so exercised about the question of who sent the emails to these far right publications? Because it violates the posted rules of the listserv:
Members of the press may subscribe to the listserv and may describe in general terms the substance of discussion on the list, but should not quote posted comments or attribute ideas to specific individuals without the consent of the individuals.
The listserv has operated on the idea that it is a public list, and that archives are valuable for research and educational purposes, but that people will show courtesy to others before passing messages directly to the press. Someone was quite discourteous here. But that doesn’t translate, as Free Beacon makes it, into uncovering the work of a secret liberal cabal.

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