The Republican election official who, multiple times, backed up President Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election denied on Monday that the newly unveiled presidential “elections integrity” committee he is vice-chairing will seek to “prove” or “disprove” Trump’s bogus allegations.
“The commission is not set up to disprove or to prove President Trump’s claim, nor is it just looking at the 2016 election,” Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said on CNN’s “New Day” Monday morning. “We’re looking at all forms of election irregularities, voter fraud, voter registration fraud, voter intimidation, suppression, and looking at the vulnerabilities of the various elections we have in each of the 50 states.”
Kobach’s role on the commission, which was created with an executive order last week, is one of many reasons voter rights advocates are worried about the panel’s true motives. Kobach has been a fierce proponent of stricter voting laws, as well as anti-immigration measures. When Trump claimed without evidence that three million people voted illegally in the election, Kobach, unlike other GOP and Democratic state elections officials, did not push back on the claim.
On CNN Monday, Kobach said that commission would have two goals. Firstly, it would be seeking “what evidence there is of different forms of voter fraud across the country.”
Secondly, it could offer recommendations for states on administering elections, and possibly for federal legislation, though Kobach said he preferred for states to be in the “driver’s seat” when running their elections.
Kobach also said that the commission will also be looking at “claims that certain laws depress turnout,” while playing down the issue. He brought up, in defense of his state’s voter ID law, that voter participation after the ID requirement was implemented remained static between the 2010 and 2014, while it dipped in states elsewhere.
CNN’s Chris Cuomo pushed back by pointing out that those statistics did not break down turnout by race, as advocates say and studies have shown that minorities are more likely not to have the required ID.
“Frankly I think the government really doesn’t need to be asking people their race,” Kobach said. “We should look at voters neutrally.”