Eight months after President Donald Trump assembled a Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity to expose the largely non-existent phenomenon of “voter fraud” in American elections, the president abruptly disbanded the effort on Wednesday. He took to Twitter on Thursday morning to blame everyone but his own team for the complete failure of the effort.
At 6:02am, Trump tweeted that the commission was foiled by those pesky blue states, who “refused to hand over data from the 2016 election,” because “they know that many people are voting illegally.”
Many mostly Democrat States refused to hand over data from the 2016 Election to the Commission On Voter Fraud. They fought hard that the Commission not see their records or methods because they know that many people are voting illegally. System is rigged, must go to Voter I.D.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 4, 2018
This claim is false. According to a CNN survey in July, at least 44 states rejected at least some of the overly broad request sent to the states by the commission’s vice chair, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R). Many state governments cited state privacy laws in their responses. Some of the most vocal responses came from Republican officials in deeply red states.
“They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico, and Mississippi is a great state to launch from,” said Mississippi’s Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann (R) said at the time, adding that “Mississippi residents should celebrate Independence Day and our state’s right to protect the privacy of our citizens by conducting our own electoral processes.”
Tom Schedler, Lousiana’s Republican Secretary of State, was similarly blunt. “You’re not going to play politics with Louisiana’s voter data, and if you are, then you can purchase the limited public information available by law, to any candidate running for office,” he told the commission. Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan, also a Republican, denounced the request as as a “hastily organized experiment.” “And South Dakota’s Republican Secretary of State Shantel Krebs, through a spokesman, made clear that she would “not share voter information with the commission.”
Despite Kobach’s and Trump’s frequent claims of widespread illegal voting and demands for voter ID laws to stop impersonation fraud, studies have found that such crimes are extremely rare — a person is more likely to be struck by lightning, fatally attacked by a shark, or hit the same roulette color 20 times in a row than to pretend to be another voter in order to cast a ballot.