Woonsocket Call

Commission launched to investigat­e voter fraud during 2016 election

Will probe Trump’s claims that millions voted illegally

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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.

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