Sneaky ‘fraud’ panel

The Day - - OPINION -

This edi­to­rial ap­peared in the Ken­nebec Jour­nal, Maine. Y ou might think that a fed­eral panel cre­ated to catch law­break­ers would scrupu­lously fol­low the law it­self.

But you might want to think again. In ap­par­ent vi­o­la­tion of fed­eral trans­parency reg­u­la­tions, the Pres­i­den­tial Ad­vi­sory Com­mis­sion on Elec­tion In­tegrity has been ex­clud­ing some of its own mem­bers from its de­lib­er­a­tions. Now one of them, Maine Sec­re­tary of State Matthew Dun­lap, is su­ing to get the com­mis­sion to do what it should be do­ing as a mat­ter of course.

In his fed­eral law­suit, Dun­lap out­lines an in­for­ma­tion freeze that be­gan this sum­mer, when his com­mu­ni­ca­tions with the panel slowed to a few emails fo­cus­ing on lo­gis­tics rather than fact gath­er­ing or anal­y­sis. Since Sept. 12, the date of the com­mis­sion’s sec­ond meet­ing, Dun­lap has “re­ceived ut­terly no in­for­ma­tion or up­dates” of any kind, he wrote in an Oct. 17 records re­quest prompted by a re­porter’s ques­tion about the ar­rest of a com­mis­sion staffer. The sec­re­tary of state hadn’t known that the staffer had been hired — let alone that the man had been ar­rested on child pornog­ra­phy charges.

Al­though Dun­lap is the only Demo­cratic com­mis­sioner who’s su­ing, he’s not the only one be­ing kept out of the loop. New Hamp­shire Sec­re­tary of State Wil­liam Gard­ner also has not heard from the com­mis­sion since Sept. 12, he told the Press Her­ald. The same goes for other com­mis­sion mem­bers.

Of the five Democrats orig­i­nally named to the panel, four say they’ve been shut out of its ac­tiv­i­ties. The fifth, David Dunn, died un­ex­pect­edly dur­ing heart surgery Oct. 16, and there’s been no talk of re­plac­ing him.

The pub­lic and the Demo­cratic com­mis­sion­ers have a right to know whether the co-chair­men, Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence Kansas Sec­re­tary of State Kris, Kobach are con­duct­ing work with­out them. The co-chairs have said they take se­ri­ously the panel’s spe­cious mis­sion — to tackle the van­ish­ingly rare prob­lem of voter fraud — which means they may well be work­ing in se­cret on ini­tia­tives aimed at voter sup­pres­sion.

Kobach and other true be­liev­ers have al­ready used their base­less con­cerns to jus­tify manda­tory photo-ID laws and other reg­u­la­tions that serve only to keep likely Demo­cratic vot­ers from cast­ing a bal­lot.

We’re happy that Maine’s sec­re­tary of state is putting the pres­sure on, and we hope that his le­gal fight forces the com­mis­sion to make clear how far it will go in its fact-averse quest to dis­en­fran­chise le­git­i­mate vot­ers.

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