Despite claims, Trump commission did not find widespread voter fraud

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. Critics, including Dunlap, reject his claims of widespread voter fraud.

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.

Dunlap’s findings received immediate pushback Friday from Kobach, who acted as vice chair of the commission while Pence served as chair.

“For some people, no matter how many cases of voter fraud you show them, there will never be enough for them to admit that there’s a problem,” said Kobach, who is running for Kansas governor and has a good chance of unseating the incumbent, Jeff Colyer, in the Republican primary Tuesday.

“It appears that Secretary Dunlap is willfully blind to the voter fraud in front of his nose,” Kobach said in a statement released by his spokesman.

Kobach said there have been more than 1,000 convictions for voter fraud since 2000, and that the commission presented 8,400 instances of double voting in the 2016 election in 20 states.

“Had the commission done the same analysis of all 50 states, the number would have been exponentially higher,” Kobach said.

In response, Dunlap said those figures were never brought before the commission, and that Kobach hasn’t presented any evidence for his claims of double voting. He said the commission was presented with a report claiming over 1,000 convictions for various forms of voter misconduct since 1948.

“The plural of anecdote is not data,” Dunlap said in his Friday letter to the shuttered commission’s leaders.

Pence’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

Dunlap said he is unsure whether the administration has released all relevant documents, and said the matter is in litigation. He said he was repeatedly rebuffed when he sought access to commission records including meeting materials, witness invitations and correspondence.

Dunlap released his findings on a website .

Emails released by Dunlap and promoted by the nonprofit American Oversight, which represented Dunlap, include examples of Republican voting integrity commissioners emailing each other as they worked on information requests without including Democrats.

“Indeed, a very few commissioners worked to buttress their pre-ordained conclusions shielded from dissent or dialogue from those commissioners not included in the discussions,” Dunlap said in his Friday letter.

In a June 2017 email, commissioner Christy McCormick unsuccessfully tried to suggest that the commission hire a statistician she knew. “When I was at DOJ, we had numerous discussions that made me pretty confident that he is conservative (and Christian, too),” said McCormick, in reference to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The emails also show some commission members had planned to ask for an interstate database used to identify duplicate voter registrations, as well as lists of individuals deemed ineligible for federal jury service due to death, relocation, convictions or lack of citizenship. It wasn’t clear in the emails whether or not such requests ended up being fulfilled, Dunlap said.

In two November 2017 emails, Republican commission member and election lawyer J. Christian Adams emailed all members and said there hadn’t been any prosecutions for double voting or any non-citizen voting in years. “Understanding the extent of un-prosecuted and known election crimes can inform the commission’s recommendations,” Adams said.

Adams also called for U.S. Customs and Immigration Services to obtain metadata from citizenship applications as well as a list of individuals removed from the U.S. due to their unlawful participation in elections.

“Many applicants note they have been registered to vote and are voting,” Adams said.

[Associated Press]

Trump Pushes Voter ID Laws, Lambastes Democrats After Disbanding Voter Fraud Panel

President Donald Trump on Thursday pushed stronger voter identification laws, the day after disbanding his commission on voter fraud.

On Twitter, Trump reiterated frustration with certain states for not handing over information to the commission he formed to investigate his unfounded claims of voter fraud, and blamed the “rigged system” on Democrats.

The White House suddenly announced Trump’s commission would be disbanded on Wednesday, though Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), the panel’s vice chair, said last week that it would meet in January.

“Despite substantial evidence of voter fraud, many states have refused to provide the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity with basic information relevant to its inquiry,” the White House said in a statement. “Rather than engage in endless legal battles at taxpayer expense, today I signed an executive order to dissolve the Commission, and have asked the Department of Homeland Security to review these issues and determine next courses of action.”

Trump created the commission in May, after repeated complaints that voter fraud tainted the 2016 election and caused him to lose the popular vote to Hillary Clinton. He failed to produce any evidence to back his claim.

Kobach sent all 50 states a letter requesting voters’ personal information, including birth dates, felony conviction records, military status, voting histories and the last four digits of Social Security numbers. Much of this information couldn’t legally be disclosed, and more than 20 states to refused to comply.

Even Kobach admitted that his state legally wasn’t able to turn over some of the requested data.

“In Kansas, the Social Security number is not publicly available,” he said in June. “Every state receives the same letter, but we’re not asking for it if it’s not publicly available.”

Even if the panel had continued apace, there’s little evidence that voter fraud is widespread, or that voter identification laws control fraudulent activity in the first place.

Research has shown that voter fraud is rare, and critics maintained that Trump’s commission was a mechanism to enhance voter suppression.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, most reported incidents of voter fraud are a result of clerical errors or bad data-matching practices. A February Washington Post study could find no evidence of voter fraud in New Hampshire, despite Trump claiming that Massachusetts voters had been bused into the state to vote illegally.

[Huffington Post]

White House Just Doxxed Americans Critical of Trump’s Election Commission

The White House just responded to concerns it would release voters’ sensitive personal information by releasing a bunch of voters’ sensitive personal information.

Last month, the White House’s “election integrity” commission sent out requests to every state asking for all voters’ names, party IDs, addresses, and even the last four digits of their Social Security numbers, among other information. The White House then said this information would be made available to the public.

A lot of people did not like the idea, fearing that their personal information could be made public. So some sent emails to the White House, demanding that it rescind the request.

This week, the White House decided to make those emails from concerned citizens public through the commission’s new website. But the administration made a big mistake: It didn’t censor any of the personal information — such as names, email addresses, actual addresses, and phone numbers — included in those emails.

In effect, the White House just released the sensitive personal information of a lot of concerned citizens giving feedback to their government. That’s made even worse by the fact that the White House did this when the thing citizens were complaining about was the possibility that their private information would be made public.

As of Friday afternoon, the emails are still uncensored and available on the White House’s website. They include all sorts of feedback, from concerns about privacy to outright insults of the Trump administration. One email just links to an image of the terrifying pornographic meme Goatse. (Do not Google this if you value your eyes.)

“DO NOT RELEASE ANY OF MY VOTER DATA, PERIOD,” said one person whose full name and email address were subsequently released in the collection of emails.

The White House website does now warn about the possibility of personal information going public: “Please note that the Commission may post such written comments publicly on our website, including names and contact information that are submitted.” But it’s not clear if the people who sent emails to the White House knew of this before the commission’s website went up this week.

It isn’t atypical to release some personal information with public comments. The Federal Communications Commission, for example, posts commenters’ addresses on its filing website. But the White House’s move quickly caught people’s attention on social media.

A spokesperson for Vice President Mike Pence, who’s helping head the commission, defended the move.

“These are public comments, similar to individuals appearing before commission to make comments and providing name before making comments,” Marc Lotter, press secretary to the vice president, said. “The Commission’s Federal Register notice asking for public comments and its website make clear that information ‘including names and contact information’ sent to this email address may be released.”

The White House’s “election integrity” commission has been criticized more broadly because it’s widely believed to be an attempt to justify voter suppression. The group was set up after President Donald Trump, on Twitter and elsewhere, complained that he lost the popular vote due to millions of fraudulent votes. The best research shows that voter fraud is incredibly rare in the US — in 2016, for example, an investigation in North Carolina found that just one out of nearly 4.8 million total votes in the state was potentially a credible case of in-person voter fraud.

But Republicans, with Trump now included, have used exaggerated fears of voter fraud to pass legislation that would add new barriers to voting — which disproportionately affects low-income and minority voters who just so happen to lean Democrat. For more on all that, read Vox’s explainer.