Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that widespread voter fraud caused him to lose the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by almost 3 million votes, even while he won the presidency with an electoral college victory. Without evidence, Trump tells lawmakers 3 million to 5 million illegal ballots cost him the popular vote.
In pursuit of the delusions of our always insecure egomaniacal Twitter-troll-in-chief, Donald Trump issued an “Executive Order Establishing of Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.”
Yeah, that’s not at all what this executive order is about. It is about Trump trying to validate his delusions that he won the popular vote but for voter fraud by millions of Americans. Trump’s commission on voter fraud is, well, fraudulent.
There is no evidence to support Mr. Trump’s claims that millions of people voted illegally in 2016, which have been discredited repeatedly by fact-checkers.
Sherrilyn Ifill, the president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, warned when Trump’s executive order was announced that the commission is “a thinly veiled voter suppression task force,” adding that it was “designed to impugn the integrity of African-American and Latino participation in the political process.” NAACP Legal Defense Fund Statement on Expected Voter Fraud Commission. She is absolutely right.
Let’s just say that things are not going well for Trump’s fraudulent “voter fraud” commission. Trump’s voting commission asked states to hand over election data. Some are pushing back.
President Trump’s voting commission stumbled into public view this week, issuing a sweeping request for nationwide voter data that drew sharp condemnation from election experts and resistance from more than two dozen states that said they cannot or will not hand over all of the data.
The immediate backlash marked the first significant attention to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity since Trump started it last month and followed through on a vow to pursue his own unsubstantiated claims that voter fraud is rampant and cost him the popular vote in the presidential election. The White House has said the commission will embark upon a “thorough review of registration and voting issues in federal elections,” but experts and voting rights advocates have pilloried Trump for his claims of widespread fraud, which studies and state officials alike have not found. They say that they fear the commission will be used to restrict voting.
Those worries intensified this week after the commission sent letters to 50 states and the District on Wednesday asking for a trove of information, including names, dates of birth, voting histories and, if possible, party identifications. The letters also asked for evidence of voter fraud, convictions for election-related crimes and recommendations for preventing voter intimidation — all within 16 days.
While the Trump administration has said it is just requesting public information, the letters met with swift — and sometimes defiant — rejection. By Friday, 25 states were partially or entirely refusing to provide the requested information; some said state laws prohibit releasing certain details about voters, while others refused to provide any information because of the commission’s makeup and backstory.
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Other states have said that they do plan to hand over information, albeit less than the broad sweep outlined in the letters.
LOCAL: Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan plans to provide President Donald Trump’s commission on voter fraud with Arizona’s voter-registration information, with certain exceptions. Arizona will provide voter information to White House as concerns swirl:
But the request for information is not sitting well with the officials of Arizona’s two largest counties, who run their own, separate databases.
Reagan issued a statement on her website Friday saying her office will provide information that is available to anyone in the general public, as the law and a recent settlement in a registration-database lawsuit permit.
But she will not release certain data Kobach is requesting because state law forbids it. That includes the last four digits of a voter’s Social Security number, his or her date of birth (only the year is permitted) and other identifying information such as the maiden name of the voter’s mother.
However, her spokesman later said Reagan was reacting to media reports on what Kobach and the commission are seeking. The office had not received the letter as of late Friday.
“Until we officially receive the letter, we don’t have an official response,” Matt Roberts said.
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Adrian Fontes, who as Maricopa County recorder runs the largest voter-registration database in the state, said he won’t release the data on 2.2 million voters until he receives guarantees from Kobach that the information won’t be made public. He, too, had not yet received Kobach’s letter.
“He is not entitled to the information for the purposes he says he is seeking it,” Fontes said of Kobach. Arizona state law allows such information to be released for verifying signatures on candidates’ petitions and filings, for elections purposes and for news gathering.
As Fontes sees it, Kobach doesn’t meet those criteria. Fontes believes the unstated purpose is voter suppression.
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Pima County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez agreed with Fontes that Kobach’s intent to publicize the registration data is not allowed.
“It does not qualify for someone to put up voter registration information on the internet so anyone on God’s green earth can look at it,” she said.
Back to the Post:
“This entire commission is based on the specious and false notion that there was widespread voter fraud last November,” Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) said in a statement. “At best this commission was set up as a pretext to validate Donald Trump’s alternative election facts, and at worst is a tool to commit large-scale voter suppression.”
California, a state Trump singled out for “serious voter fraud,” also refused to participate. Alex Padilla, the California secretary of state, said providing data “would only serve to legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud.”
Vice President Pence, who is chairman of the commission, hosted a conference call with the group’s members Wednesday morning, three weeks before they are scheduled to have their first meeting in Washington. During the call, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), the vice chairman, told the other members about the letters.
A spokesman for Pence defended the letters, noting they seek information that is available publicly under state laws. [Not so for every state.]
“The commission very clearly is requesting publicly available data in accordance with each state’s laws in an effort to increase the integrity of our election system,” Jarrod Agen, the spokesman, said in a statement. “The commission’s goal is to protect and preserve the principle of one person, one vote because the integrity of the vote is the foundation of our democracy.”
Bullshit! Its purpose is to compile a comprehensive data base of voter information for purposes of GOP voter suppression efforts. Trump’s fraudulent “voter fraud” commission has as members the GOP’s leading voter suppression specialist, Kris Kobach, and the notorious “voter fraud” conspiracy theorist Hans Von Spakovsky. There is no reason to believe this commission is acting in good faith.
On Friday, as states said they would not participate, White House deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called that pushback a “political stunt.”
“I think that that is mostly political stunt,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a White House spokeswoman, said when asked about the pushback. “This is a commission that’s asking for publicly available data and the fact that these governors wouldn’t be willing to turn that over — this is something that has been part of the commission’s discussion, which has bipartisan support and none of the members raised any concern whatsoever.”
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Our Twitter-troll-in-chief tweeted on Saturday morning: “Numerous states are refusing to give information to the very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL. What are they trying to hide?”
Maybe Trump should ask Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Kris Kobach says he can’t comply with Kris Kobach’s voter data request. Doh!
The request for records drew a new round of scrutiny to Kobach, a candidate for governor of Kansas in 2018 and an intellectual and political leader among conservatives who want to crack down on illegal immigration and the perceived threat of voter fraud.
In 2009, announcing his first bid for secretary of state, Kobach said that registration fraud by the defunct community organizing group ACORN made Americans wonder whether “the next election’s going to be stolen.” In office, Kobach aggressively pursued cases of potential fraud and promoted the “Crosscheck” system to see whether voters had registered in multiple states. But he frequently lost in court, as judges warned that measures meant to keep noncitizens off the rolls were ensnaring too many legitimate voters.
“It looks like they’re putting together a database of who people voted for,” said Jason Kander, a former Missouri secretary of state who runs the nonprofit group Let America Vote. “Democrat, Republican, independent, everybody should be outraged by that. This is from the same people, from Kris Kobach to Donald Trump, who’ve tried to make it harder for people to vote, and this seems like a step in the process. If the Obama administration had asked for this, Kris Kobach would be holding a press conference outside the Capitol to denounce it.”
The idea of collecting all national voter data for an audit has traveled through conservative circles for years. True the Vote, a group that promoted the fear that bogus voter registrations led to stolen votes in the 2008 election, also advanced the theory that millions of illegal votes denied Trump a popular mandate.
True the Vote itself has struggled to keep up momentum from the Obama era. Catherine Engelbrecht, the group’s president, told supporters in a video message last week that True the Vote was not getting the donations necessary to meet its ambitions. The dream of a grass-roots national voter audit was simply not going to happen.
“We have gathered 2016 voter rolls; we’ve gathered information from thousands of resources,” Engelbrecht said. “For us, it’s never been about the headlines, or the promised presidential commissions, or the make-believe Russian hackers.”
No, it’s those “illegal” Mexicans and African-American felons who are illegally voting for Democrats by the millions for these delusional wingnut conspiracy theorists.
Experts described the request as unprecedented in scope, a recipe for potential voter suppression and troubling for the privacy issues it raises.
“This is an attempt on a grand scale to purport to match voter rolls with other information in an apparent effort to try and show that the voter rolls are inaccurate and use that as a pretext to pass legislation that will make it harder for people to register to vote,” said Rick Hasen, an election-law expert at the University of California at Irvine.
Hasen said he has “no confidence” in whatever results the committee produces. He said the commission and its request create a number of concerns, including that it is an election group created by one candidate for office — Trump, who already is campaigning for reelection — and headed by Pence, another political candidate.
“It’s just a recipe for a biased and unfair report,” Hasen said. “And it’s completely different from the way that every other post-election commission has been done.”
Justin Levitt, an elections expert at Loyola Law School, pointed to the request about voters’ party affiliations, which he said violates the federal Privacy Act of 1974. Critics also said that because of varying state laws, the commission won’t be able to make an apples-to-apples comparison with the data it collects, which could undermine its eventual conclusions.
The most acute worry Friday was about what the group’s expected report in 2018 will recommend.
“It could end up leading to trying to create a justification for more state laws that restrict voting in very serious and what are proven to be unlawful ways,” said Vanita Gupta, who headed the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division during the Obama administration. “And that’s through all kinds of cuts, through restrictive voter ID laws, through cuts in early voting [and] same day registration.”
The Post’s Paul Waldman explains Why we should be very afraid of Trump’s vote suppression commission. No state should comply with Trump’s fraudulent “voter fraud” commission. Give it the middle-finger salute, and let this fraudulent commission die.