It looks this morning like at least one member of President Trump’s “election integrity” commission has come to the realization that the whole thing is a sham.
Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, one of four Democrats on the 11-member commission, filed suit this morning in Washington against the commission and its leaders, Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
Dunlap’s 26-page complaint seeks a federal court order giving him access to commission documents and communications. Pence, Kobach and the commission staff have ignored his repeated requests for those materials, Dunlap charges.
He can’t even find out when, or if, the commission will meet again, Dunlap said.
President Trump created the commission last spring with instructions to investigate claims of voter fraud in last year’s elections. While neither he nor anyone else has provided evidence to support the allegation, the president insists that up to 5 million votes were cast illegally, denying him a majority of the popular vote.
The lack of evidence backing Trump’s claims about fraud, plus Kobach’s support for voter identification requirements and other legal steps that make voting more difficult for groups that typically favor Democrats, has fueled concerns that the commission’s work is being rigged to justify a new wave of voter suppression laws.
The suit notes that Trump promised that the commission’s work would “be very open for everybody to see.”
“In fact, the Commission’s superficial bipartisanship has been a façade,” the complaint charges. “Secretary Dunlap and the other Democratic commissioners have been excluded from the Commission’s work. The Commission’s operations have not been open and transparent, not even to the commissioners themselves, who have been deprived access to documents prepared by and viewed by other commissioners.”
“The commission has been a sham from its inception, stacked with notorious vote suppressors,” said Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn. “Secretary Dunlap was clearly asked to join the commission to provide cover as one of its token Democrats. But as his lawsuit makes clear, when the facts didn’t line up with reality ,the Commission denied Secretary Dunlap access to the documents it collected.”
Dunlap’s suit is the latest in a series filed against the commission, including one lodged by Common Cause in July. That complaint, which accuses the commission of violating the federal Privacy Act, grew out of the panel’s request that state election officials provide it with extensive personal information – including dates of birth and Social Security numbers – of millions of registered voters.
The call for voter data appears to be part of a longstanding effort by Kobach, the panel’s vice chairman, to remove millions of names from voter rolls across the country. As Kansas’ top election official, Kobach has spearheaded the development of a multi-state database of voter registration records that is designed to identify duplicate registrations; the data it generates has proven so unreliable that at least two states, Florida and Oregon, have stopped sharing their information.
Issues: Voting and Elections