THE PRESIDENTIAL Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, set to hold its inaugural meeting Wednesday, is already better known as the voter fraud commission, owing not only to its explicit mission but also to the fact that so many of its members, including its chairman, Vice President Pence, and vice chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, are on record as subscribing to or defending President Trump’s unfounded view that millions of fraudulent votes were cast in last fall’s elections. In fact, the real fraud is the commission itself.
Mr. Kobach, a Republican running for governor of Kansas, professes indignation and phony puzzlement over the jaundiced eye that Democrats, voting rights experts and some Republicans have aimed at the panel.
Yet how could it be otherwise, given that Mr. Kobach himself has for years made a political cottage industry of his (repeatedly debunked) claims of fraud in Kansas and national elections? If ever a federal commission embarked on a “study” with a predetermined outcome, this is it.
There is little cause for surprise at the composition of the panel, whose (to date) 10 other members include several in Mr. Kobach’s mold. Among them is Hans von Spakovsky, who, in President George W. Bush’s Justice Department, led an effort to purge voter rolls in Missouri; he failed, and was later blocked from a seat at the Federal Election Commission as a result of his overt partisanship.
Having written that voter fraud and other shenanigans “can be found in every part of the United States,” Mr. von Spakovsky now presents himself as having an open mind on the subject, telling The Post that he hopes to “find out” how prevalent it is.
Even before holding its first meeting, the commission has been subjected to the contempt it deserves. At least 44 states, plus the District, have said they cannot or will not comply with all or part of the commission’s request for extensive information on voter rolls, including partial Social Security numbers and party affiliation of registered voters.
In contrast with its members’ unwarranted obsession with fraud, the panel shows no inclination to examine the huge spike in reported attempts to penetrate voter-registration systems ahead of the 2016 elections in more than 20 states, including Illinois, where hackers assailed the State Board of Elections “5 times per second, 24 hours per day” last summer, according to state officials. Given that clear and present threat, wouldn’t it be logical if the commission pushed back against efforts to defund the Election Assistance Commission, the federal agency charged with helping states combat hacking and conduct smooth elections?
And while the commission is also charged with studying voter suppression, it includes no members who have focused on that problem, despite the fact that federal courts have repeatedly intervened in recent years to slap down efforts at suppression in states, mainly led by Republicans, including by Mr. Kobach in Kansas. The real threat to election integrity is paltry voter turnout in national elections, which has not reached 60 percent since the 1960s.