Editorial: An utter waste of time, money

There is no evidence of widespread election fraud and no reason for Trump’s laughable commission ‘investigating’ it to exist.

Amid all of the challenges facing President Donald Trump, ferreting out voter fraud in the U.S. should be near the bottom.

Yet there the president was last week, heralding the first meeting of the almost comical Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. The commission is supposed to be working to investigate allegations — made by the president himself — that there is widespread voter fraud throughout the country.

Trump won a decisive victory in the Electoral College over Hillary Clinton, but he has fumed that he lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes. He has said that he would have won the popular vote but for voter fraud. He tweeted in November that he believes 3 million to 5 million immigrants in the country illegally voted and that all of those votes were for Clinton.

“Throughout the campaign and even after, people would come up to me and express concerns about voter inconsistencies and voter irregularities which they saw, in some cases having to do with very large numbers of people in certain states,” Trump said at the commission’s first meeting.

The problem, of course, is that beyond a few isolated cases, there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud that Trump alleges.

Critics believe the commission is nothing more than a conservative campaign to hinder groups that have traditionally leaned Democratic — younger voters, minorities and the poor — from registering to vote and casting ballots.

The commission has requested that each state provide to the commission extensive voter information — including voter names, voting histories and party affiliations. But The Associated Press reports that 14 states have refused to comply with the request, arguing that doing so would simply legitimize the false claims of widespread voter fraud.

Vice President Mike Pence, who is chairing the commission, said last week that the commission is beginning its work without any preconceived notions. But that’s hard to take seriously, given the president’s own statements and the fact that Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is the vice chair of the commission.

Kobach has parlayed the voter fraud myth into a political career and is eyeing the governor’s mansion in Topeka. He has authored some of the most restrictive voter registration laws in the country, only to see them subsequently struck down by the courts.

Recently, The New York Times asked election officials in all 50 states if there was widespread voter fraud in their state; 49 said there was not. Kobach refused to respond. Yet, if Kansas is besieged by voter fraud, Kobach has been unable to find it. During his six-plus years in office, Kobach’s office has pursued no more than a handful of voter fraud cases.

Obviously, there are significantly more pressing matters that need to be addressed including health care, taxes and valid concerns over Russia’s interference in last November’s election.

The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is at best a waste of time. The Trump administration would be wise to focus its attention elsewhere.