Trump’s ‘Election Integrity Commission’ is a sham
WASHINGTON » It is neither paranoid nor alarmist to begin asking if the Trump administration plans to rationalize blocking a large number of voters who oppose the president from casting ballots in 2018 and 2020. And it is imperative that the civic-minded of all parties demand the disbanding of a government commission whose very existence is based on a lie.
The lying doesn’t stop. Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, is vice chairman of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Its name reminds us why the adjective “Orwellian” was invented. Kobach chose to use a meeting of the commission in New Hampshire on Tuesday to continue to cast doubt on the state’s election results even after his charges of voter fraud had fallen apart.
That Kobach had initially made his case on Breitbart is a sign that the man in charge of what is supposed to be a sober inquiry is simply a propagandist.
Here’s how he confected his Breitbart tale. New Hampshire allows wouldbe voters to register on Election Day. Kobach noted that 6,540 same-day registrants used out-of-state driver’s licenses to verify their identity.
This is perfectly legal under New Hampshire law, but Kobach’s “aha!” moment was to reveal that “after the election” (the damning italics are his), only 1,227 of the 6,540 had either obtained New Hampshire driver’s li- censes or registered a vehicle. Ergo, Kobach concluded of the remainder, “It seems that they never were bona fide residents of the state.”
And then he took several more leaps. First he labeled the 5,313 as “fraudulent votes.” Then he noted that Democrat Maggie Hassan defeated then-incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte by 1,017 votes. His explosive claim: If 59.2 percent or more of these fake voters went for Hassan, “the election was stolen through voter fraud.” Yes, he wrote “stolen.”
Here’s the problem: New Hampshire’s Secretary of State Bill Gardner, a Democratic member of the commission, noted that Kobach simply ignored what the state’s election law actually says. It allows voting by those “domiciled” in the state — people who spend most of their nights in New Hampshire — and not just “residents.” Yes, they can vote even if they have driver’s licenses from other states.
This category includes college students, and New Hampshire Public Radio found that the highest rates of voting using outof-state IDs occurred in college towns.
So Kobach’s charges of fraud are themselves fraudulent, but he can’t seem to admit that he was wrong. Instead, he said at the commission meeting that he might not have found “the right word” to describe the situation. He asked “if it’s possible to condense a complex legal issue into an 800-word column.”
We should, indeed, be discussing ways of making our elections much better. We could build on the 2014 report from a genuinely bipartisan commission led by two battle-hardened election lawyers, Republican Ben Ginsberg and Democrat Bob Bauer.
Kobach’s commission, however, is just looking for ways to justify new barriers to voting by groups not inclined to support Trump.
Protesters gather Tuesday at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., ahead of a daylong meeting of the Trump administration’s election integrity commission.