With a low-key announcement, the White House did something relatively rare: admit defeat. Due to noncompliance with requests for data by state governments, Donald Trump’s presidential commission to investigate voter fraud is being disbanded.
Officially, the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity was chaired by Vice President Pence, and was tasked with looking into Trump’s absurd conspiracy-theory claim that “millions” of illegal votes were cast in the 2016 election.
In practice, it came to be associated with its noxious Vice Chair, who in practice ran the show. Kris Kobach of Kansas, currently the state’s secretary of state and GOP gubernatorial candidate, made an unsuccessful bid after the election to be named as homeland security secretary.
As a consolation prize, Trump rewarded him with the so-called “voter integrity” investigation, fueled by Trump’s own notorious claim that he would have won the popular vote but-for millions of illegally-cast votes.
Conspiracy theories about widespread voter fraud have been debunked time and time again. Kobach, a zealot who built his reputation as Kansas secretary of state around a handful of frivolous prosecutions, brought no evidence to the table of anything worth worrying about.
There are many reasons why voter fraud simply doesn’t occur in large numbers
The fact is, voter impersonation is vanishingly rare, because a single vote just isn’t worth the risk and expense. The chances of keeping such a plot secret while organizing millions of fraudulent voters, is about as credible as the idea that Stanley Kubrick faked the moon landing.
More importantly, state governments, including those run by Republicans, were quick to make plain they would not comply with this blatantly political witch-hunt. Requests for voter information and registration rolls, including social security numbers, were firmly rejected on the grounds of both federalism and protecting the privacy of voters.
Though subject to some federal regulations, all elections in the United States are actually conducted by the state governments. They are the ones who register voters, print and count ballots, run the polling places, and all the other things that go into administering elections. Kobach’s commission not only had a spurious factual basis, it was also without constitutional authority to command state compliance.
This defeat is a victory for facts, common sense, and 10th Amendment federalism.
(Photo of U.S. President Donald Trump (C) speaking while flanked by Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach (L) and US Vice President Mike Pence during the first meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, on July 19, 2017 in Washington, D.C. by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)