Why The Commission On Electoral Integrity Is Necessary

Michael Thielen Executive Director, Republican National Lawyers Association
Font Size:

Yesterday, President Trump spoke and kicked off his Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.  At one point, he asked about those states refusing to share publicly available voter registration information: “If any state does not want to share this information, one has to wonder what they’re worried about.  And I asked the Vice President, I asked the Commission:  What are they worried about?  There’s something.  There always is.” 

President Trump went on to note the integrity of American electoral systems is not a partisan issue or a conservative-liberal issue: “This is not a Democrat or a Republican issue, it’s an American issue.  It’s about the concern of so many Americans that improper voting has taken place and canceling out the votes of lawful American citizens.”

Sadly, election integrity has become a partisan issue.  While much of the public was looking elsewhere during the meeting, the far left “voting experts” were riveted and in full attack mode, as they are against any effort to fix or improve our elections.  In fact, the radical left anti-integrity community has opposed key recommendations of every presidential election commission’s report, including President Obama’s and the commission co-chaired by President Carter. 

A Democrat member of the Election Integrity Commission, Secretary of State Bill Gardner of New Hampshire, cited President Carter’s support of voter ID in the Commission on Federal Election Reform’s report, drawing the left’s ire.  Gardner has been Secretary of State for New Hampshire since before Carter was President and pointed out how voter ID states actually have high voter turnout.  Two of the states with the highest turnout percentage last year were states with voter ID protections, New Hampshire and Wisconsin.

The anti-integrity left does not want to hear any of it.  For them, ID is “racist” and “repressive.”  Of course, this is true only when it comes to voting; ID is fine for obtaining welfare, travel, court house access, buying alcohol or cigarettes, banking, etc.  But voters themselves consistently support voter ID protections for voting, on a bipartisan basis.  Last August, a Gallup poll found that 95% of Republicans and 63% of Democrats supported requiring a photo ID to vote, and a Fox News poll earlier this week found that 96% of Republicans and 60% of Democrats believe photo ID should be required to prove citizenship prior to voting.

The fact that the left conveniently omits is anyone without ID can still vote provisionally and the ballot will count if the voter is eligible.  States have mechanisms to work with voters in special circumstances to ensure that every eligible voter has a valid ID to vote.  What about those “disenfranchised” voters who sue states with voter ID protections?  Either they later obtain an ID after initial difficulties or refuse to accept the state’s help in obtaining an ID.

But Gardner, because he refuses to follow the party line and talking points on voter ID, early voting, and the importance of election integrity, is not a “real Democrat” according to Hillary Clinton’s campaign lawyer, Marc Elias.  Is President Carter also not a Democrat since he recommended ID for voting? 

Of course, that attack pales in comparison to what is said about another commissioner, Hans von Spakovsky.  The left is guilty of their own form of bigotry here.  Christian Adams is a commissioner with similar background and arguably stronger conservative views, but he is never attacked with the vehemence of von Spakovsky.  Hans’ name sounds like a villain from a World War II movie and that has led to him being attacked much more than anyone else on the Commission. He is attacked despite the fact he is literally the child of a man who skied out of Russia with the Red Army on his tail threatening to execute him.  During the meeting, von Spakovsky shared how his parents’ experiences in Soviet Russia and East Germany instilled in him the vital importance of an open and fair electoral process for protecting freedom.

Von Spakovsky also has the temerity to document over a 1000 instances of vote fraud, directly contradicting the left’s pervasive narrative that vote fraud is a myth.  Under his direction, the Heritage Foundation has compiled an astounding database of voter fraud cases.  These are not allegations or even formal investigations.  These are 938 criminal convictions and 133 other official findings that fraudulent activity occurred.  And given the difficulty of detecting and prosecuting fraud, it is likely that this only scratches the surface.

What does this mean for the Commission’s study of our election system?  It is desperately needed and long overdue. 

What was striking during the meeting is all the commissioners, with their range of experiences and philosophical views, agreed on one thing: reform is needed in our electoral system to increase voter confidence and participation in the system.  They all had different suggestions for where the most work is needed, but unlike the anti-integrity left, they recognized this Commission has an excellent opportunity to study America’s election system and make recommendations for the states to help protect the integrity of their elections.  We thank them for their service to the American people and for weathering the attacks of the left.