Flawed from the Start

The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity

Shortly after he was elected, President Trump tweeted that “in addition to winning th. Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” Meeting with lawmakers on Capitol Hill shortly after his inauguration, he reiterated the claim, stating that three to five million people voted illegally, all in favor of Hillary Clinton, who won the popular vote nationally by more than 2.8 million votes.

“Of those votes cast,” Trump announced, “None of ‘em come to me. They would all be for the other side.” Trump alleged that part of the problem is double registrations: “You have people registered in two states. They’re registered in a New York and a New Jersey. They vote twice.”

The president’s claims are deceitful and fabricated, a long list of nonpartisan experts agree. As The Washington Post reported in January, the “claim [of widespread voter fraud] is not supported by any verifiable facts, and analyses of the election found virtually no confirmed cases of voter fraud, let alone millions.” Double registrants may be common–Americans move regularly–but double votes are exceedingly rare. Election administrators, the people with firsthand knowledge of voting systems’ strengths and vulnerabilities, generally agree that their systems do not enable double voting.

“Inquiries [by the New York Times] to all 50 states [all but Kansas responded] found no states that reported indications of widespread fraud.” And across the country, election officials have voter verification tools – including signature matching and post-election audits – in place to detect and prosecute the rare instances that do occur. Undeterred by these facts, the president issued an executive order on May 11, 2017, creating the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. In a tweet, he dubbed it, “the very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL.”

This report demonstrates that the commission, which the administration shut down in January 2018, was flawed from the start. It was premised on false claims about widespread voter fraud. Its membership lacked the ideological balance of previous, successful presidential commissions that addressed election administration. Its leaders had records of pushing policies that make it harder to vote. And it failed to adhere to established federal standards for the conduct of such studies, and other federal obligations. Rather than undertaking a serious and much-needed study of reforms that would protect and strengthen the integrity of our elections, the commission was geared to provide a platform for policies that will roll back voting rights. Its direction flew in the face of state actions to implement commonsense reforms to make our elections more modern and secure, including online voter registration, automatic registration, and early voting.