Donald Trump’s election integrity commission held its second meeting on Tuesday, this time in New Hampshire. This was days after vice-chairman Kris Kobach accused New Hampshire voters of voter fraud in an article for the “alt-right” fake news outlet, Breitbart.
Officially, the commission is charged with examining the election system for causes of voter fraud – a narrative Trump adopted before the election and he continued developing that narrative after the election in tweets like this one from November 2016.
In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 27, 2016
Trump also announced he established the commission in a tweet.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 11, 2017
If the integrity of our election system really concerned Donald Trump, he would want an investigation into Russia’s interference in the election, including wide circulation of fake news helpful to Trump’s campaign on social media. But that would entail admitting Trump didn’t win because of his ideas or what he certainly believes was an exemplary campaign but because he bettered suited the interests of hostile foreign powers than Hillary Clinton did.
After all, Trump’s fragile ego is his Achilles heel and everyone in the world, with the exception of Trump and his base, knows it.
He had two reasons for developing the voter fraud narrative, neither of which have anything to do with concern about the integrity of our elections.
As we all know, with this president if something goes wrong or he failed at something it’s always someone else’s fault. Trump won the presidency but he failed at winning the people. And the myth about “illegal aliens” committing election fraud was born.
Trump also wanted to justify making voting even more difficult for people who are more likely to vote for a Democrat than a Republican. In part this was about serving more red meat to a base that is as bigoted and narcissistic as Trump is and also because we would end up with single party rule by Republicans if voting was restricted to men who believe they are entitled to all the benefits that come with white, male privilege.
Even if one wants to argue in defense of the fact that this commission is comprised exclusively of white men, there are several other factors that delegitimize it.
In his Breitbart article, Kobach claimed that because people had out of state drivers’ licenses that was proof of mass voter fraud in New Hampshire. However, as the Huffington Post explains, under New Hampshire election law, one has to be domiciled in New Hampshire to register to vote. That means they currently live in the state and intent to stay for a definite period of time. One doesn’t need a New Hampshire drivers’ license while domiciled there to be on the right side of the state’s election law.
The Huffington Post explained the rationale behind the law: “The definition allows people like college students, doctors completing their residency and military personnel who are stationed in the state to vote.”
Kobach lied in his Breitbart article about New Hampshire election law to provide the illusion that if one has an out of state drivers’ license it must mean they violated the election law. That is hardly surprising given his record of lying about election integrity matters.
The fact that he wrote about it as a paid Breitbart columnist raises ethical issues. Experts on ethics argue that Kobach’s dual roles as Breitbart columnist and Vice-Chair of the election commission could violate Federal conflict of interest laws.
The commission’s legitimacy is further compromised by the fact it is hearing some seriously deranged characters with crazy and extreme ideas.
According to The Washington Post, the commission invited Fox Commentator John Lott to present his thoughts on why voters should have to undergo the background check he said doesn’t work on gun owners. I kid you not. You can read Lott’s presentation to the commission on the commission’s website.
Lott seems to believe this would enable authorities to review criminal history and immigration status, if someone renounced American citizenship and just to “check if the right people are voting.”
If this was an SNL skit, we could laugh about it and move on with our lives. But this is the Trump Administration tearing America apart, one value at a time.