President Trump’s long-awaited commission on election integrity was created by executive order today. The commission will investigate problems that affect the integrity of our elections and undermine public confidence in election results, including vote fraud.
This study, and the recommendations for reform and better practices that will come from it, is long overdue. Only 30% of Americans expressed confidence in the “honesty of elections,” according to a recent Gallup poll.
Like the response to any action by President Trump, we can expect manufactured public outcry from the left, likely centered on the fact that the commission will investigate problems of vote fraud as part of its mission. The activists on the left who deny the existence of vote fraud despite evidence to the contrary will decry the commission, even though vote fraud is a non-partisan issue.
Why is it non-partisan? Because vote fraud takes many different forms and is a much broader problem than the voter impersonation fraud often discussed in the news—when someone shows up at the polls pretending to be a legitimate voter and votes in his or her name. When vote fraud occurs, it cancels out the vote of someone voting for a different candidate. It’s a broad problem that affects honest voters broadly. And no voter who has taken the time to research the candidates and issues and vote wants to know that a fraudulent vote has negated his or her vote.
Commission member Democrat New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner understands this well. His party affiliation does not prevent him from caring deeply about the integrity of New Hampshire elections and working tirelessly to ensure that eligible votes from New Hampshire citizens are counted and not canceled by fraudulent votes.
Gardner has publicized the problem of what he calls “drive-by voting,” when people who are in New Hampshire temporarily on election day register at the polls and vote despite not intending to stay in New Hampshire. He has supported reforms to protect the integrity of the vote in New Hampshire, such as voter identification requirements and amending New Hampshire’s laws to prevent “drive-by voting.” In his office’s investigation of voters who registered at the polls without showing proof of domicile or identity in the 2016 presidential election, 458 likely fraudulent votes have already been identified, and the investigation is ongoing.
Commission vice chair Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State, also has worked for years to improve the integrity of elections not just in Kansas but around the country. He founded, and his office administers, the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck (IVRC) program, which compares voter registration databases from member states to identify possible errors and duplicate registrations. When a voter moves to and registers to vote in a new state, the voter sometimes remains registered in the previous state as well, usually through a miscommunication among election officials and no fault of the voter. IVRC allows states to compare data and eliminate these duplicate registrations that could be exploited for fraud and at a minimum create messy voter registration rolls. IVRC and the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), the other interstate data sharing system, were explicitly endorsed and praised by President Obama’s bipartisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration (PCEA) in 2014. Secretary Kobach has been a leader in the field of voter registration list maintenance, which everyone—except the far left which calls such efforts voting purging—agrees is the foundation of election integrity.
Rumored commission member Election Assistance Commission (EAC) Commissioner Christy McCormick has also long been a leader in fighting for election integrity on a bipartisan basis. The EAC is an independent, bipartisan federal agency charged with helping states administer their elections. Under Commissioner McCormick’s leadership, the EAC ruled, on a bipartisan basis, that states could use federal grant money intended to improve how elections are run to pay for criminal investigations of potential voter fraud.
Election integrity is central to our system of government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Many totalitarian regimes have “elections,” but true elections—where the people can freely express their political will in secret at the polls, trust that their vote counts, have confidence that fraudulent votes have not annulled their votes, and trust the outcome of the election—are the hallmark of a free people. President Trump’s commission is an important part of ensuring that America’s elections are open, fair, and honest, so that every eligible voter’s vote counts and that no fraudulent votes are counted.
Ronald L. Hicks, Jr., is Vice President for Communications of the Republican National Lawyers Association and a Partner at Meyer, Unkovic & Scott LLP. All opinions expressed are his personal opinions.