One of the Democrats slated to be on President Trump’s so-called “elections integrity” commission is already warning that he will “speak up” if it becomes a “Trojan horse” for infringing on the right to vote.
“If they take nothing and conflate it into something, I think being part of the commission is a good place to be in order to correct that record,” Maine’s Secretary of State Matt Dunlap told TPM in a phone interview Thursday.
Dunlap confirmed reports that he was likely to serve on the commission and said he is just finishing up the paperwork.
“I’ve been asked to be a part of it and my inclination is to do it,” Dunlap said.
But he takes a very different view of the prevalence of voter fraud than that of President Trump, who has claimed without evidence that three to five million people voted illegally in the 2016 election.
“I think it’s largely a bunch of ghost stories,” Dunlap said of claims of widespread fraudulent voting, adding the he has seen “very few” issues in the six terms he has served as Maine’s top elections official.
He said only twice has he forwarded to the attorney general cases of potential double voting, and that ultimately prosecutors declined to bring charges because, upon investigation, the two people had moved and been confused about the registration paperwork they had been given.
“How many millions have been cast and we had those two cases that the attorney general didn’t feel were worthy of prosecution,” he said.
Trump’s signing of the executive order creating the commission—which will identify voting policies that “enhance” or “undermine” the “American people’s confidence” in elections, according to the order—has prompted concerns among voting rights advocates that the group will issue a report that will be used as cover to push restrictive laws.
Dunlap said he hasn’t received many details on what the commission will be doing.
“I don’t know if they’re going to be making recommendations to Congress or doing an investigation of some kind,” Dunlap said. “I’m not clear what our charge is going to be.”
The commission is being led by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a leader in the push for has pushed for more restrictive voting regulations, like a proof-of-citizenship voter registration requirement, which has been blocked by courts.
“What we have seen, repeated around the country, is that strict voter ID laws, registration deadlines, all the document requirements, just winds up discouraging people form participating in the process—and not just the people you are trying to guard against,” Dunlap said.
He said that politically, he and Kobach “probably could not be farther apart,” but that he is a nice guy on a personal level.
“You can disagree without being disagreeable,” Dunlap said. “So my instinct is to see where this takes us and if this turns out to be a Trojan Horse, I have the opportunity to walk away then.”