The White House announced Wednesday it was closing its voter fraud commission, formally known as the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, due to lack of cooperation from many state secretaries of state who refused to hand over reams of voter information to President Trump’s pet conspiracy project. Trump issued an executive order in May forming the “bipartisan” commission with Vice President Pence as Chairman and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach as vice chair and spiritual leader.
The seeds of Trump’s “election integrity” commission were planted on the campaign trail before irony was assassinated. Trump, on the stump, began railing on about how the election was “rigged.” Against him, obviously. “I just hear such reports about Philadelphia … I hear these horror shows, and we have to make sure that this election is not stolen from us and is not taken away from us,” candidate Trump said during a rally weeks before Election Day. Even after winning the actual election, Trump tried to justify not winning the popular vote by chalking it up to widespread voter fraud by literally MILLIONS of Americans. “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally,” the then-president-elect tweeted.
Once president, Trump commissioned this reasonable-sounding inquiry:
The Commission on Election Integrity will study vulnerabilities in voting systems used for federal elections that could lead to improper voter registrations, improper voting, fraudulent voter registrations, and fraudulent voting. The Commission will also study concerns about voter suppression, as well as other voting irregularities. The Commission will utilize all available data, including state and federal databases… It is expected the Commission will spend the next year completing its work and issue a report in 2018.
It didn’t take long for the wheels to start coming off this sham of a project. One member of the commission even sued the body in November, claiming it was violating federal law. Not to mention, there is no legitimate evidence supporting the claim that widespread voter fraud impacted the 2016 election. That’s not to say there are zero instances, but studies have found the prevalence of voter fraud is statistically zero—not just in this election, but all elections.
After assuming office, the formation of the commission amounted to the nationalization of a common Republican voter suppression scare tactic, where every cycle around election time the idea is floated that ineligible voters, namely minority communities, undocumented immigrants, and, you know, Democrats, are attempting to subvert American democracy by illegally voting. It’s usually a strategic move to rally public support to make it harder for legitimate voters from minority communities to cast ballots by requiring certain forms of ID and making the voting process generally and disproportionally burdensome for those communities.