PRESIDENT TRUMP has empaneled a commission to investigate voter fraud. The real fraud is the commission itself.
The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is to be led by Vice President Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Mr. Kobach, a Republican, is a longtime champion of voter suppression laws who seconded as “absolutely correct” the president’s fabricated assertion that Hillary Clinton’s victory in the popular vote, which she won by nearly 3 million ballots, was a result of “millions of people who voted illegally.”
Mr. Kobach is notorious for erecting impediments to the ballot box — specifically, ones that would disproportionately discourage and deter minority and other Democratic-leaning voters. His presence as the commission’s vice chair — Mr. Pence’s other responsibilities make it likely that Mr. Kobach will be the panel’s driving force — makes a farce of the idea that the commission’s work will be dispassionate, fair and clear-eyed.
More likely, given Mr. Kobach’s record, is that it will endeavor to create further pretexts for GOP-dominated state legislatures determined to throw up barriers to minority turnout with laws such as North Carolina’s, which was struck down by a federal appeals court as an unconstitutional effort to “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.” The Supreme Court, citing a dispute over who represents the state, on Monday declined to review that decision, but its conservative majority may not block future such legislation.
The fix was in from the moment Mr. Trump promised, in January, that he would establish a commission on fraudulent voting, a nonissue that has been almost entirely conjured from thin air by Republicans seeking to enhance their electoral chances. Multiple studies have shown, and the overwhelming consensus of both Republican and Democratic voting officials at the state and local levels has been, that fraudulent voting, particularly of the in-person variety, is all but nonexistent in the United States. A thorough survey three years ago came up with 31 credible instances of voter impersonation that could have been prevented by ID laws, out of more than 1 billion votes cast in elections from 2000 to 2014.
Republicans are quick to conflate their baseless allegations of widespread fraud with real — and inconsequential — instances of duplicative voter-registration rolls owing mainly to individuals who have moved from one state to another. That hardly ever translates into multiple or illegal votes cast. Among those whose names have appeared on more than one state’s rolls are Stephen K. Bannon, the White House chief strategist; Sean Spicer, its press secretary; Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser; and Tiffany Trump, the president’s younger daughter. None of them is believed to have voted illegally.
Mr. Kobach said the 12-member commission, which will include a few Democrats , “does not begin with foregone conclusions.” However, his record in Kansas and elsewhere offers ample proof to groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, that regard him as the king of voter suppression .
Faced with the hostility of minority and other voting blocs, Republicans would rather suppress votes than compete for them. By establishing this commission, Mr. Trump is giving them a hand.
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