President Donald Trump has selected a GOP official with a history of proposing restrictive elections policies that have been batted down by the courts to join Vice President Mike Pence in leading a commission that will examine “improper voting, fraudulent voter registrations and fraudulent voting,” as one administration official put it to ABC News.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach will be the vice chair, and Pence the chair, of the panel that’s being called “Presidential Commission on Election Integrity.” Trump is expected to sign the executive order creating the commission on Thursday, according to the ABC News report.
The commission appears to be the result of Trump’s vows earlier this year to launch an investigation into voter fraud – which has found to be extremely rare in studies – after he claimed without any evidence that “millions” of people vote illegally in the presidential election.
A White House official said, via a pool report that the commission will go beyond “reviewing alleged voter fraud & suppression.”
“The Commission will review policies and practices that enhance or undermine the American people’s confidence in the integrity of Federal elections — including improper registrations, improper voting, fraudulent registrations, fraudulent voting, and voting suppression,” the commission said, according to the pool report.
The committee will be bipartisan, according the ABC News report, and a number of Democratic and Republican officials are being considered for it by Trump administration.
Kobach is the engineer of a number of laws and proposals that were struck down by the courts, including a proof-of-citizenship requirement for voter registration in Kansas that has been tied up in a multi-year legal battle. Multiple courts have ruled against his efforts to implement the requirement, and at one point, he was threatened to be held in contempt-of-court for allegedly refusing to comply with a court order against it.
Arizona’s “show me your papers” law was crafted with Kobach’s assistance. While at the Justice Department under President George W. Bush, he also was behind the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, which essentially functioned as a registry for Muslim men entering the country. Kobach floated the idea after Trump was elected that the program may be revived.
Kobach was a major Trump booster and lobbied for tougher language on building a wall on the Mexican border to be added to the Republican platform. In November, Kobach was photographed with Trump holding a proposal sheet that included a line that said “Draft Amendments to National Voter….,” presumably a reference to the National Voter Registration Act. As part of the litigation over the proof-of-citizenship requirement, a judge ordered he turn over the paper, and Kobach’s appeal of the decision failed just this week.
Among the other candidates floated to serve on the committee in the ABC News report is Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson. She was involved in a sketchy raid of a voter registration group last fall, that some worried would have a chilling effect on voting while overblowing claims of widespread voter fraud.
Per the ABC News report, the White House is seeking to make the panel bipartisan.
“The commission will also examine the issue of voter suppression, officials said, which could encourage Democrats to sign on to the effort,” the report said.