When voting for Kansas Attorney General, Remember the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity

With the resources of the federal government at his disposal, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach found no voter fraud.

Although Donald J. Trump won the 2016 presidential election in the Electoral College and became president, he did not win the national popular vote. It had to be due to voter fraud, he said. In May 2017 he signed an executive order creating the “Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.” Although vice-president Mike Pence was the chair, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was the effective leader. The executive order directed the commission to provide a report to the president. (1)“Presidential Executive Order On The Establishment Of Presidential Advisory Commission On Election Integrity”. Whitehouse.Gov, 2017, https://web.archive.org/web/20170511232125/https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/05/11/presidential-executive-order-establishment-presidential-advisory. But the commission did not submit a report.

Instead, the commission struggled to find evidence of voter fraud, made requests to states for voter data that could not be legally fulfilled, issued no report, and lost a lawsuit forcing it to release records. This is the record of Kris Kobach pursuing voter fraud at the national level. Following, some reporting.

The Associate Press reported:

The now-disbanded voting integrity commission launched by the Trump administration uncovered no evidence to support claims of widespread voter fraud, according to an analysis of administration documents released Friday.

In a letter to Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who are both Republicans and led the commission, Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said the documents show there was a “pre-ordained outcome” and that drafts of a commission report included a section on evidence of voter fraud that was “glaringly empty.”

“It’s calling into the darkness, looking for voter fraud,” Dunlap, a Democrat, told The Associated Press. “There’s no real evidence of it anywhere.”

Republican President Donald Trump convened the commission to investigate the 2016 presidential election after making unsubstantiated claims that between 3 million and 5 million ballots were illegally cast. … The Trump administration last month complied with a court order to turn over documents from the voting integrity commission to Dunlap. The commission met just twice and has not issued a report. (2)“Report: Trump Commission Did Not Find Widespread Voter Fraud”. AP NEWS, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/north-america-donald-trump-us-news-ap-top-news-elections-f5f6a73b2af546ee97816bb35e82c18d. Accessed 25 Oct 2022.

The reliably conservative National Review reported:

At the national level, Kobach is best known for running the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity until it was disbanded in defeat by President Trump in January 2018. The Commission destroyed all its data rather than comply with a court order to include Democrats, and transferred responsibilities — but not Kobach — to the Department of Homeland Security. The Commission was a setback on every front for ballot-security advocates, producing essentially no reports or data that could support any of the policies Kobach championed. State governments were so uniform in refusing to comply with Kobach’s requests for data such as partial voter Social Security numbers that even Kobach himself concluded Kansas could not legally comply with his own requests. (3)“Kris Kobach Is An Incompetent Loser Who Loses, And That Is Why Democrats Want Him” National Review, 2020, https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/08/kris-kobach-is-an-incompetent-loser-who-loses-and-that-is-why-democrats-want-him/. (italics emphasis in original)

The Atlantic supplies more detail:

Despite having won the 2016 election, Trump insisted that he had been denied a victory in the popular vote by 3 million to 5 million unauthorized-immigrant voters. He did not provide any evidence for the claim, because there is none. As voting experts have noted for as long as the fraud claims have circulated, it is impossible to execute fraud on this scale. Every year, there are individual cases of voters voting illegally, but to stuff the ballot boxes this way would require a massive and highly conspicuous effort, as Philip Bump showed in a thought experiment.

Nonetheless, Trump announced in May 2017 that he’d convene a commission to study voter fraud. …

The titular head of the commission was Vice President Mike Pence, a sign of the importance it held for Trump, but its effective leader was Kris Kobach, a Republican who was then the Kansas secretary of state. …

Almost immediately, the commission ran into trouble. With no credible evidence of fraud in hand to start proving the conclusion that both Trump and Kobach had clearly already reached, it had to turn something up, fast. In June, Kobach sent a letter to states asking for all publicly available voter data, including names, addresses, voting history, party affiliation, felony convictions, and the last four digits of Social Security numbers. …

State officials and security experts, including many Republicans, reacted with horror. They said Kobach had offered no secure way to send the information, and in any case, there was no reason to believe that it would prove fraud. Besides, it would cost taxpayer money, could endanger privacy, and in some cases violated state law. “My reply would be: They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great State to launch from,” Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, a Republican, said of the commission and its requests. Election officials also complained that the commission was intimidating voters into canceling their own valid registrations. …

In September, it held a meeting in New Hampshire to investigate Trump’s claim of fraud there, but Bill Gardner, New Hampshire’s secretary of state and a commission member, rebutted the claim. By October, two of the group’s Democrats were complaining that they had been shut out of deliberations and meetings. One of them, Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, sued to demand access to commission material, and won.

In January, the group was finally put out of its misery, without releasing any findings. The Trump administration said it would not hand materials over to Dunlap, because the commission no longer existed, but a judge disagreed, and in August 2018, Dunlap released the documents he’d obtained. They showed that in its months of work, the commission had uncovered no evidence of fraud. (4)Graham, David. “The Last Time Trump Alleged Massive Fraud”. The Atlantic, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/11/kris-kobach-and-search-mythical-voter-fraud/617069/. Accessed 25 Oct 2022.

US News & World Report reported:

It was a claim President Donald Trump frequently repeated, and was the stated rationale for the White House commission he convened in May: Millions of people voted illegally during the 2016 presidential election, the president insisted, and voter fraud is a scourge on the democracy that must be eliminated.

Trump himself said his select Advisory Commission on Election Integrity — vice-chaired by voter-fraud hard-liner Kris Kobach, Kansas’ secretary of state — had found evidence of widespread voter fraud in records it collected from about 20 states. That’s despite multiple academic and independent studies showing the problem of illegal voting is miniscule at worst.

Yet the day after Trump shut down the highly criticized panel last week amid an array of lawsuits, including one filed by a member of the commission itself, court filings show the panel didn’t uncover any evidence of fraudulent voting during its 11 months in operation.

Charles Herndon, White House director of information technology, said in a sworn court declaration filed Tuesday in federal court that the voter-fraud commission “did not create any preliminary findings.”

Herndon also seemed to contradict Trump’s and Kobach’s assertion that the Department of Homeland Security would take up the mission of rooting out evidence that millions broke the law at the ballot box in 2016.

“[N]o Commission records or data will be transferred to the DHS or another agency,” other than the National Archives and Records Administration, Herndon testified. (5)“Trump Panel Finds No Voter Fraud.” US News & World Report, //www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2018-01-10/trump-commision-on-election-integrity-found-no-evidence-of-voter-fraud.

References

References
1“Presidential Executive Order On The Establishment Of Presidential Advisory Commission On Election Integrity”. Whitehouse.Gov, 2017, https://web.archive.org/web/20170511232125/https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/05/11/presidential-executive-order-establishment-presidential-advisory.
2“Report: Trump Commission Did Not Find Widespread Voter Fraud”. AP NEWS, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/north-america-donald-trump-us-news-ap-top-news-elections-f5f6a73b2af546ee97816bb35e82c18d. Accessed 25 Oct 2022.
3“Kris Kobach Is An Incompetent Loser Who Loses, And That Is Why Democrats Want Him” National Review, 2020, https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/08/kris-kobach-is-an-incompetent-loser-who-loses-and-that-is-why-democrats-want-him/.
4Graham, David. “The Last Time Trump Alleged Massive Fraud”. The Atlantic, 2020, https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/11/kris-kobach-and-search-mythical-voter-fraud/617069/. Accessed 25 Oct 2022.
5“Trump Panel Finds No Voter Fraud.” US News & World Report, //www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2018-01-10/trump-commision-on-election-integrity-found-no-evidence-of-voter-fraud.

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