Though just two months old, Donald Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity has abandoned the “integrity” part.
Last week, the commission sent letters to 50 states and the District of Columbia asking for names of voters, their dates of birth, their voting histories, their party affiliations and partial Social Security numbers. The letters sent off alarms across the country — as they should have. By all appearances, the commission just wants to dig through all that closely held private data to support spurious claims of voter fraud. The commission should withdraw its request.
The White House says the commission’s goals are lofty. But all signs indicate it really is just looking for any scrap of information that might support Trump’s unfounded claim that millions of people illegally cast ballots in 2016, which would further efforts to suppress the vote in future elections. On Saturday, Trump undercut any claim the commission is open-minded by tweeting it is a “voter fraud panel.”
The commission is run by Vice President Mike Pence, which hardly puts it above politics. Two of its members – Vice Chairman Kris Kobach and Hans A. Von Spakovsky — support voter suppression tactics. Last month, a federal magistrate fined Kobach $1,000 for misleading the court about voter registration documents he took into a November meeting with Trump, which does not inspire confidence in him.
The commission is entitled to buy public information about voting records from the states. But some of the data it seeks, such as partial Social Security numbers, would be illegal for states to hand over. Many states have said they will not cooperate. Gov. Bruce Rauner should add Illinois to that list.
Previous probes have found that voter fraud at the polls is rare, but vote suppression is on the rise. If this pseudo investigation is used to further suppress votes, it would itself undermine the fairness of elections.
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