Thursday 17 August 2017

President signs executive order to investigate alleged voter fraud and suppression

Vice President Mike Pence will chair the commission
Vice President Mike Pence will chair the commission

Barney Henderson in New York

DONALD TRUMP has signed an executive order to create a commission to investigate voter fraud and voter suppression in the US.

Despite the firestorm triggered by his shock sacking of James Comey from his post as the FBI director on Tuesday evening, Mr Trump signed the order yesterday establishing the bipartisan Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

The US president has made several unsubstantiated claims that there was widespread voter fraud during the 2016 presidential election with several million “illegals” voting for the Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton.

While Mr Trump won the election by 304 electoral college votes to 227, Mrs Clinton comfortably won the popular vote, receiving around 2.9 million more votes than Mr Trump nationwide – a statistic that Mr Trump is said to be irritated by and still does not accept.

The commission, which will be chaired by Mike Pence, the US vice president, will investigate allegations of improper voting and fraudulent voter registration in states and across the nation. It is expected to take a year to compile a report.

“The commission will review policies and practices that enhance or undermine the American people’s confidence in the integrity of federal elections – including improper registrations, improper voting, fraudulent registrations, fraudulent voting and voting suppression,” an unnamed White House official said.

Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, who has played a leading role in the drive to crack down on undocumented immigrants, will be appointed as vice president of the commission.

The move was immediately criticised by civil rights groups, who claimed it was a voter suppression tactic and that Mr Kobach would use his position on the commission to try to prevent minority groups from voting.

“Kris Kobach being named to run a commission on ‘voter integrity’ is like naming Bernie Madoff to run a commission on financial crimes,” said Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice Education Fund.

“He has dedicated his professional career to trying to deny people of colour the vote and to trying to drive millions of immigrants out of the country.”

Mr Trump has previously claimed that between three and five million undocumented immigrants voted illegally last November.

“They all voted for Hillary. They didn’t vote for me. I don’t believe I got one,” he said in January.

In February, Mr Trump claimed he would have also won New Hampshire if it had not been for voters bussed in from outside the state. New Hampshire officials have said there was no evidence of major voter fraud.

Voting experts and both Democrats and Republicans have said there is no evidence to suggest that millions of people voted illegally, including Jason Chaffetz, the House oversight committee chairman.

Hurdles

Democrats have frequently accused Republicans of trying to suppress turnout among minority and low-income voters. They have accused Republicans of erecting unnecessary hurdles for voter registration and intimidating voters.

The new commission comes at the same time as several investigations into alleged Russian meddling in last November’s presidential election.

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