President Donald Trump made the right call in disbanding the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.
The commission was a contrived creation from the start, and the decision to kill it is another blow to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s ongoing efforts to suppress voting in America.
Trump, who has said he believes illegal ballots are to blame for his being outpolled by Hillary Clinton by 2.8 million votes in the 2016 presidential election, created the commission last summer to investigate voting fraud. Trump pulled the plug on the commission after less than a year because of infighting among commission members, legal challenges to the commission’s efforts, and because several state officials refused to cooperate with commission requests for voter data.
“Many mostly Democrat States refused to hand over data from the 2016 Election to the Commission On Voter Fraud,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. “They fought hard that the Commission not see their records or methods because they know that many people are voting illegally. System is rigged, must go to Voter I.D.”
His tweets aside, Trump’s decision to dissolve the commission means the administration no longer considers voter fraud a priority. That’s as it should be, as neither Trump nor anyone on the commission ever offered even a shred of evidence that there was widespread voting fraud that would necessitate changes.
That’s a setback for Kobach, who as the commission’s vice chairman stole most of the headlines. He tried to spin Trump’s Wednesday decision as simply a “tactical change,” noting that the commission’s initial findings would be forwarded to the Department of Homeland Security for review and any further action. But Kobach shouldn’t hold his breath waiting for action from DHS.
There simply isn’t any credible evidence that voter fraud is a significant problem. The Associated Press reported that a study by a Loyola Law School professor found that out of 1 billion votes cast in all American elections between 2000 and 2014, there were only 31 known cases of impersonation fraud.
Of course, proving election fraud was never the end goal for Kobach, who has put in place in Kansas the most restrictive voter registration and identification laws in the country. Critics argue the Kansas laws and others like them are aimed at suppressing turnout among groups that are most affected by the restrictions — the poor, young people, the elderly and recent immigrants. The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging the Kansas laws, and the U.S. Court of Appeals has blocked the laws from being implemented until the case is litigated.
Though Kobach would like you to believe otherwise, Trump’s decision to dissolve the commission puts on hiatus Kobach’s efforts to take his voter ID laws national. Count that as a win for our democracy.