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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Trump’s Fraudulent Voter-Fraud Commission - The New York Times

"President Trump’s repeated claim that “millions” of noncitizens voted illegally in the 2016 election has always been transparently self-serving — a desperate attempt to soothe his damaged ego and explain how he could have lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by almost three million votes.

It also lined up nicely with a yearslong crusade by Republican officials to convince Americans that “voter fraud” is an actual problem. As Mr. Trump’s own lawyers have pointed out, it’s not. But that hasn’t stopped the president from trying, as he so often does, to commandeer the machinery of the federal government to justify his own falsehoods. The most recent example was his creation last week of an advisory commission whose ostensible goal is to “enhance the American people’s confidence in the integrity of the voting processes,” with an emphasis on weeding out “improper” or “fraudulent” registration and voting.

To state the obvious, this isn’t a commission. It’s a self-driving vehicle preprogrammed to arrive at only one destination: that strange, fact-free land in which, according to Mr. Trump and many conservatives, hordes of foreigners and people without valid photo identification flood the polls, threatening the nation’s electoral integrity. The right-wing politicians and anti-voter activists who appear to believe this never trouble themselves with the actual data.

So here it is: Voting fraud is extremely rare, and in-person fraud — the only kind that would be caught by voter ID laws — is essentially nonexistent, as study after study has shown. And as for those foreigners, a new survey of local election officials in 42 jurisdictions turned up a total of about 30 cases of suspected noncitizen voting last November — out of more than 23 million votes.

Meanwhile, voter ID and other suppression laws keep losing in court, where judges demand actual evidence in support of claims. On Monday, the Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to the decision of a federal appeals court last year striking down as unconstitutional North Carolina’s stunningly harsh anti-voter law, which required photo identification at the polls, cut early voting and eliminated same-day registration, among other measures. That decision found Republican state legislators had deliberately targeted “African-Americans with almost surgical precision.” A similarly severe Texas law was struck down by a federal judge, also for intentionally discriminating against minorities.

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The purported purpose of Mr. Trump’s commission — to restore confidence in elections — is laughable, not only because Republicans have spent the past decade sowing seeds of doubt with hyped-up tales of fraud. In reality, voters’ confidence is mainly affected by whether their preferred candidate wins, not by the existence of voter ID or other laws.

Robert Bauer, co-chairman of the last presidential commission on elections, said Mr. Trump’s commission “is not intended to bolster confidence, but to undermine it, and on the strength of this program, to advance reforms that are costly, unnecessary and a burden on lawful voting by eligible voters.” Real reforms should include improved technology, more opportunities for early voting, and better-trained poll workers, as a comprehensive 2014 report produced by Mr. Bauer, a Democrat, and his Republican colleague, Benjamin Ginsberg, found.

The report also showed that bipartisanship is central to any credible effort to fix America’s voting systems. In contrast, Mr. Trump has put his commission in the hands of Kris Kobach, a hard-line conservative from Kansas who is the nation’s most aggressive peddler of the voter-fraud myth.

Mr. Kobach — who has managed to obtain just nine convictions for voter fraud since 2015, most for voting in two states — thinks he is standing on the “tip of the iceberg.” He claims he can’t understand why voting-rights advocates resist a deeper inquiry into fraud. “What are they afraid of? Why do they not want to know these numbers?” he asked.

There are also people who believe in the abominable snowman, but the government doesn’t waste millions of taxpayer dollars trying to prove he exists."

Trump’s Fraudulent Voter-Fraud Commission - The New York Times

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