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Election Integrity Commission: Partisan Politics? Or Real Reform?

Last week, President Trump signed an executive order to establish a commission that will investigate possible voter fraud and voter suppression in the American election system.

The executive order outlines the work of the commission and that it will study the laws, rules and policies that make up the voting experience in America, and where changes need to be made, changes will be made.

It will also, for the first time, use the federal government’s voting registry to find vulnerabilities in the system by checking it against every state’s registry. The goal, remove any improper voting practices, including fraudulent voter registrations and fraudulent voting.

There’s nothing wrong with creating a commission to address the problems in our election system. However, Americans might be concerned about who is leading the commission: Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

Kobach has been a huge advocate for restrictive voting laws. He has been called by some Democrats as the “king of voter suppression.”

Kobach was involved with what some consider anti-immigration laws in Arizona and Alabama, pushing for states to require a birth certificate or passport for registration, measures that traditionally burden low-income voters, including many voters of color.

As the top election official in Kansas, Kobach has been on an illegal voting crusade, cracking down on “voting crime.”

Kobach noted recently, “About three million people are registered in more than one state and while it’s not a crime to be registered in more than one state vote, it is a crime if you actually try to vote in two states and every year thousands of people do.” Kobach says cutting down on those multiple voting offenders will be one focus of the commission.

By making Kobach a co-chair for this commission, voices from the left will decry this effort as a sham and certainly the Democratic Party will, as they have done before with Republican presidents, make voting rights a signature rallying cry.

ACLU Voting Rights Director Dale Ho spoke about the commission and the appointment of Kris Kobach, “There is no evidence that we have a problem with election integrity. You can tell that this is a sham commission just by the appointment of Kris Kobach, someone who has devoted much of his professional life to suppressing the vote, to vice-chair. It’s a circus show, designed to undermine confidence in our system and to reach a pre-determined result and to justify laws that make it harder for people to register and vote as a result.”

It is true that the United States needs a comprehensive look at how it does elections. Officials should scrutinize laws aimed at preventing fraud, to see if they unfairly target legitimate voters.

Public Interest Legal Foundation President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams worked in the civil rights division of the Justice Department during the George W. Bush administration and the beginning of Obama’s first term.  Adams noted, “We know of election crimes that went unchecked in the Obama administration, one after another after another, that the federal government never prosecuted and never investigated, never did anything about and creating this Wild West atmosphere with voter fraudsters,” Adams said.

Regardless of which side of the political fence you reside, if the commission is to pass new laws, it should be guided by one important principle: are these laws being passed to give a partisan advantage to one party or the other or to legitimately prevent voter fraud?