Commission launched to investigate voter fraud during 2016 election
Will probe Trump’s claims that millions voted illegally
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday launching a commission to review alleged voter fraud and voter suppression, building upon his unsubstantiated claims that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election.
The White House said the president's "Advisory Commission on Election Integrity" would examine allegations of improper voting and fraudulent voter registration in states and across the nation. Vice President Mike Pence will chair the panel, and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach will be vice chair of the commission, which will report back to Trump by 2018.
Trump has alleged, without evidence, that 3 million to 5 million people voted illegally in his 2016 election against Democrat Hillary Clinton. He has vowed since the start of his administration to investigate voter fraud, a process that has been delayed for months.
Last November, Kobach said he supported Trump's assertions that he would have won the popular vote if "millions" of people hadn't voted illegally.
Democrats and voting rights groups called the panel a sham, arguing there are few, if any, credible allegations of significant voter fraud. They warned that the panel would be used to lay the groundwork for stricter voting require- ments that could make it more difficult for poor and minority voters to access the ballot box.
"The sole purpose of this commission is to propagate a myth and to give encouragement to Republican governors and state legislators to increase voter suppression," said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who challenged Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said it was a "clear front for constricting the access to vote to poor Americans, older Americans, and — above all — African-Americans and Latinos."
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the commission would be bipartisan and composed of about a dozen members, including current and former state election officials and experts.
"The president is committed to the thorough review of registration and voting issues in federal elections, and that's exactly what this commission is tasked with doing," Sanders said.
The panel will aim to ensure confidence in the integrity of federal elections while looking at vulnerabilities in the system and the possibility of improper voting and fraudulent voter registration and voting, officials said.
The commission will include two Republicans, former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell and Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, and two Democrats, New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner and Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap.