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Trump's Executive Order on Election Integrity: Is There Evidence of Voter Fraud?

Last week, President Donald Trump signed another executive order, this time creating the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity to investigate voting processes and registration for federal elections. Ostensibly, this commission will root out past voter fraud and advise the Oval Office on measures to prevent it in the future.

But the American Civil Liberties Union is wondering why there's a need to create such a commission in the first place. On the same day Trump signed his executive order, the ACLU filed a freedom of information request for any evidence the Trump administration has supporting its claims of voter fraud.

Voter Fraud Fraud

Voter fraud has been an issue the president has evidenced some interest in. As a candidate, Trump began questioning election results back in the fall of 2016. He repeatedly claimed the 2016 presidential election was "going to be rigged" months before voters hit the polls, and after questioned whether he would have won the popular vote "if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally." (Based on most reliable sources, Trump lost the popular vote by more than 2.8 million votes.)

Investigative Integrity

So what will the new Commission on Election Integrity actually do? By the executive order, it is tasked with identifying "those laws, rules, policies, activities, strategies, and practices that enhance [and undermine] the American people's confidence in the integrity of the voting processes used in Federal elections," as well as "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." The Commission can't pass or enforce any laws -- it can simply pass this information on to the president.

Vice President Mike Pence will chair the Commission, and Vice Chair will be Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, whom the ACLU dubbed the "King of Voter Suppression." Amid fears that the Commission will simply be a vehicle to prove Trump's claims of widespread voter fraud in favor of election opponent Hillary Clinton, Kobach assured CNN the group will be bipartisan and examine voting rights in all forms: "In addition to focusing on voter fraud, and election irregularities, the commission will also be looking at the claims of voter suppression, claims that certain laws depress turnout, things like that."

State Voter Laws

Even for federal elections, states are generally free to craft their own legislation regarding voter registration and ballot casting. But there are limits to those laws. For instance, earlier today the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review a Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decision that struck down North Carolina's strict voter ID law. The Fourth Circuit's ruling was based on the fact that state legislators had specifically targeted African American voters in an attempt to restrict their access to the polls.

So while the new Commission might be tasked with addressing voter fraud in federal elections, most of the legal legwork, so to speak, will still be done in state legislatures and reviewed by state and federal courts.

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