President Trump’s Commission on Election Integrity is well-stocked with state election officials hostile to efforts to protect critical voting and voter registration systems against electronic hackers, Mother Jones reported over the weekend.
The magazine said two commission members have publicly dismissed U.S. intelligence agency findings that hackers supported by the Russian government penetrated election systems in several states last year. Several other commissioners are openly opposed to efforts by the federal Department of Homeland Security to designate election systems as critical infrastructure, a status that would make them eligible for extra federal aid.
One commissioner, Christy McCormick, has declared that reports of Russian interference in the 2016 election are a hoax designed to give the federal government access to state election systems. Another, Hans von Spakovsky, argued last year that then-President Barack Obama’s administration was using the threat of hacks to gain access to state and local voting systems to help Democrats win elections.
The hacking threat was the Obama team’s “election Trojan horse,” von Spakovsky wrote. He added that “there is no credible threat of a successful cyberattack on our voting and ballot-counting process because of the way our current election system is organized.”
Commissioners Connie Lawson of Indiana, a Republican, and Matthew Dunlap of Maine, a Democrat, are among a group of state election officials who voted for a National Association of Secretaries of State resolution condemning efforts to designate election systems as critical infrastructure.
The Mother Jones report underscores concerns among voting rights advocates, including Common Cause, that the Trump commission is set up to undermine, rather than strengthen, the integrity of U.S. elections.
The commission’s de facto chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, is arguably the nation’s foremost proponent of allegations – unsupported by the facts – that voter fraud is a serious problem in U.S. elections. At his urging and that of other Republican activists across the country, 32 states have passed or toughened laws requiring voters to produce specific identification before casting their ballots.
None of those laws has produced evidence that a significant number of unqualified people have voted or attempted to cast ballots. Instead, the evidence indicates that ID requirements block tens of thousands of legally qualified voters from voting and that those hardest hit are most likely to be people of color, students, the elderly and infirm – all groups that are disproportionally Democratic.
The Trump commission began its work this summer with a request that state officials provide a variety of personal information about registered voters, including their party affiliation and the last four digits of their Social Security numbers. All but a handful of states declined at least part of the request, which apparently was part of a plan to assemble a national voter database that could be used to search for duplicate registrations.
Office: Common Cause National
Issues: Voting and Elections