MISSION, KANSAS — A member of President Trump’s disbanded commission on election integrity recently released administration documents showing that the panel uncovered no evidence of widespread voter fraud, let alone enough to prove Trump’s claim that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election.
In a letter Friday, Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap (D) wrote that the commission issued a report with a section on evidence of voter fraud that was “glaringly empty.”
On the eve of Kansas’ primary election, commission co-chair Kris Kobach responded to Dunlap’s letter, telling ThinkProgress that he finds the Maine elections official’s claim “laughable.”
“Secretary of State Dunlap’s press release is laughable,” the GOP gubernatorial candidate told ThinkProgress during a press conference Monday. “The commission came up with many, many cases of voter fraud. In fact, at the very first meeting, there were nearly 1,000 convictions for voter fraud — not reports. Convictions for voter fraud. If that’s not a lot of proof, I don’t know what is.”
Kobach also claimed that during a subsequent meeting, the commission had a private organization put together a study of 21 states that found 8,400 cases of double voting.
“If you expand that from 21 states to 50 states, the number doesn’t go up in a linear faction,” he said. “It goes up in an exponential faction because you’re looking at people who could have voted in any of the states considered. So the total number of double voters, had the commission completed his work, would have been an extremely large number.”
But Dunlap said those figures are “absolutely without basis in fact.” In addition, he said the figures were never brought before the commission and Kobach never presented any evidence for his claims of double voting to the group, according to the AP.
In his letter, Dunlap also claimed that Kobach, commission chair and Vice President Mike Pence, and the administration had a “pre-ordained outcome” when they created the panel, and that it “reveals a troubling bias” that the commission set out to find evidence of fraud. Kobach shot back Monday, claiming that Dunlap was the one with the “agenda from the beginning.”
“There is ample evidence of voter fraud,” he said. “I think Secretary Dunlap had an agenda from the beginning that he wanted to discount any findings of voter fraud, and of course he’s made that clear.”
Kobach frequently states that the number of identified cases of voter fraud is just the tip of the iceberg and represents just a small percentage of the total number of cases. He repeatedly made that argument during a federal trial in March, claiming the number of incidents of voter fraud in Kansas was substantial enough to warrant the enforcement of his documentary proof of citizenship law, which the ACLU claimed disenfranchised more than 35,000 people.
But the George W. Bush-appointed judge rejected Kobach’s argument, writing in her opinion that “the Court draws the more obvious conclusion that there is no iceberg; only an icicle, largely created by confusion and administrative error.”
Yet Kobach continues to rationalize his voter fraud crusade with the same reasoning. Even if the commission on voter fraud were to have identified 1,000 convictions of voter fraud in the 2016 election (in fact, there have been just a handful), that number would pale in comparison to the millions of illegal voters that Trump claimed.
Pressed by ThinkProgress, Kobach disputed the federal judge’s findings.
“I don’t think her argument was that the tip of the iceberg…,” he said, trailing off. “By definition, it almost has to be true. You can only find a fraction of the voter fraud that exists. Just like almost any crime. You can only prosecute or you can only catch a fraction of the total incidents of that crime.”
He said the judge only disagreed on whether the estimated total number of cases was “substantial,” and he said he will continue fighting in his appeal before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Kobach faces Gov. Jeff Colyer (R), a more moderate Republican, in Tuesday’s GOP primary. On Monday, Trump tweeted his endorsement of Kobach, writing that “he will be a GREAT Governor.” Before Monday, the Republican Governors Association and other high-level Republicans reportedly tried to convince the president not to endorse Kobach because Democrats have an easier chance beating Kobach and it will cost the GOP a significant amount of money to keep the governor’s mansion red.