In a quiet Executive Order signed today with no press present, President Donald Trump created a so-called “voter integrity” commission.
Trump repeated again and again that “millions” voted illegally during the 2016 elections — a claim that has never been proven or substantiated. Making voting more difficult is all but formal policy for the Republican party. The commission is likely the response to the changing demographics in America that will likely overtake the current Republican party which is made up of an overwhelmingly male and white group on the federal level.
Incredibly, given his history on the topic of voting, Trump has appointed Kris Kobach, a leading architect of voter suppression, to head the commission. Kobach is currently the Secretary of State of Kansas and a former chairman of Kansas Republican Party.
Membership of the commission will include Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson (R), New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner (D), Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap (D), Christie McCormick, commissioner of the election assistance commission, and former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.
The commission is likely to spur activism among voting rights advocates to say the least.
The text of the executive order is below:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 11, 2017
– – – – – – –
Establishment of Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, and in order to promote fair and honest Federal elections, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Establishment. The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity (Commission) is hereby established.
Sec. 2. Membership. The Vice President shall chair the Commission, which shall be composed of not more than 15 additional members. The President shall appoint the additional members, who shall include individuals with knowledge and experience in elections, election management, election fraud detection, and voter integrity efforts, and any other individuals with knowledge or experience that the President determines to be of value to the Commission. The Vice President may select a Vice Chair of the Commission from among the members appointed by the President.
Sec. 3. Mission. The Commission shall, consistent with applicable law, study the registration and voting processes used in Federal elections. The Commission shall be solely advisory and shall submit a report to the President that identifies the following:
(a) those laws, rules, policies, activities, strategies, and practices that enhance the American people’s confidence in the integrity of the voting processes used in Federal elections;
(b) those laws, rules, policies, activities, strategies, and practices that undermine the American people’s confidence in the integrity of the voting processes used in Federal elections; and
(c) those vulnerabilities in voting systems and practices used for Federal elections that could lead to improper voter registrations and improper voting, including fraudulent voter registrations and fraudulent voting.
Sec. 4. Definitions. For purposes of this order:
(a) The term “improper voter registration” means any situation where an individual who does not possess the legal right to vote in a jurisdiction is included as an eligible voter on that jurisdiction’s voter list, regardless of the state of mind or intent of such individual.
(b) The term “improper voting” means the act of an individual casting a non-provisional ballot in a jurisdiction in which that individual is ineligible to vote, or the act of an individual casting a ballot in multiple jurisdictions, regardless of the state of mind or intent of that individual.
(c) The term “fraudulent voter registration” means any situation where an individual knowingly and intentionally takes steps to add ineligible individuals to voter lists.
(d) The term “fraudulent voting” means the act of casting a non-provisional ballot or multiple ballots with knowledge that casting the ballot or ballots is illegal.
Sec. 5. Administration. The Commission shall hold public meetings and engage with Federal, State, and local officials, and election law experts, as necessary, to carry out its mission. The Commission shall be informed by, and shall strive to avoid duplicating, the efforts of existing government entities. The Commission shall have staff to provide support for its functions.
Sec. 6. Termination. The Commission shall terminate 30 days after it submits its report to the President.
Sec. 7. General Provisions. (a) To the extent permitted by law, and subject to the availability of appropriations, the General Services Administration shall provide the Commission with such administrative services, funds, facilities, staff, equipment, and other support services as may be necessary to carry out its mission on a reimbursable basis.
(b) Relevant executive departments and agencies shall endeavor to cooperate with the Commission.
(c) Insofar as the Federal Advisory Committee Act, as amended (5 U.S.C. App.) (the “Act”), may apply to the Commission, any functions of the President under that Act, except for those in section 6 of the Act, shall be performed by the Administrator of General Services.
(d) Members of the Commission shall serve without any additional compensation for their work on the Commission, but shall be allowed travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, to the extent permitted by law for persons serving intermittently in the Government service (5 U.S.C. 5701-5707).
(e) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(f) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(g) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
DONALD J. TRUMP
THE WHITE HOUSE,
May 11, 2017.