I. In Focus This Week
President expected to launch commission on ‘election integrity’
Commission to be chaired by vice president
In a closed- door meeting with Congressional leaders and subsequently in numerous tweets shortly following his inauguration, President Donald J. Trump alleged that three to five million illegal votes were cast in the 2016 general election.
Although he had no evidence to back up his claims — including a claim that former New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte (R) would have been re-elected had there not been voter fraud — Trump said he would sign an executive order to create a presidential commission to look into the alleged voter fraud.
The president’s claims were met with denial from state and local elections officials and great skepticism from others in the elections field. Even Snopes.com weighed in on the claim.
“The process had integrity. It was extremely well administered. And in the end, the people's voice was heard and the process served voters well," U.S. Election Assistance Commission Chair Matthew Masterson (R) told the Center for Public Integrity.
Now, according to multiple media outlets, the president is expected to sign an executive order today (May 11) authorizing the establishment of an “election integrity” commission.
According to published reports, Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach will lead the commission which is supposed to include Republicans and Democrats.
The Associated Press reports, potential panel members include Secretaries of State Connie Lawson (R-Indiana), William Gardner (D-New Hampshire), Matthew Dunlap (D-Maine) and former Secretary of State Ken Blackwell (R-Ohio). Also among the reported potential commission members is U.S. Election Assistance Commissioner Christy McCormick (R).
At press time there are no reports of local elections officials on the commission.
A White House official told The Associated Press that the panel will “aim to ensure confidence in the integrity of federal elections while looking at vulnerabilities in the system and the possibility of improper voting and fraudulent voter registration and voting.”
In addition to questions about who will serve on the commission and what its guidelines will be, the question about how it will be funded also remains unanswered. In February Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that federal funds should not be used for such a commission.
"This sort of thing is handled at the state level, and the Democrats always claim there's no election fraud at all. That is, of course, not true -- election fraud does occur. There's no evidence that it occurred in such a significant number that would have changed the presidential election, and I don't think we ought to spend any federal money investigating that," the Kentucky Republican told CNN.
The need for a presidentially-appointed commission has been questioned by members of both parties since the president first suggested it.
“If the administration decides to pursue some sort of investigation on that, we will certainly cooperate in any way that they ask for,” Sen. John Thune (R-South Dakota) said during an earlier GOP retreat according to The Los Angeles Times. “But all I can tell you is this: We had an election; it was a decisive outcome. We have a new president, a new Congress and I view the election as history and we’re ready to roll up our sleeves and go to work for the American people.”
Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz who currently chairs the House Oversight Committee has said his committee will not conduct an investigation into the 2016 election.
"The president said that he thought there was 'widespread voter fraud,'" Chaffetz told CNN's "New Day" in early March.
"I don't see any evidence of that. We're not doing an investigation of that. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don't."
ElectionlineWeekly will have more on this next week.
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