- - Monday, January 8, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Democrats, other liberal activists and even one of its own appointed members cheered the demise last week of Donald Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. The cheers may be premature.

President Trump pulled the plug on the election-integrity panel he established last May just as the U.S. Supreme Court is to hear a crucial case from Ohio about what to do about election fraud.

In Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, the justices will decide whether Ohio and other states can make reasonable efforts to scour their voter rolls to make sure valid votes aren’t canceled by ballots cast illegally. That would be all to the good.

Eligible voters are entitled to confidence that local, state and national elections are not tainted by illegal votes, even though any effort to make sure election fraud doesn’t occur, no matter how modest those efforts may be, is denounced by some Democrats as voter suppression.

Citing liberal lawsuits and blue-state Democrats’ refusal to co-operate with the commission, bordering on obstructionism, Mr. Trump eliminated the advisory commission last week.

The very next day, a state legislative race in Virginia that ended in a dead tie was settled by a random drawing. One question that never got asked in the legal skirmishing over the recounts in that race was whether the 23,216 votes cast were all cast by valid Virginia voters. Now we’ll never know.

But if even just one ballot was cast by an illegal alien, someone who had moved out of the district, or a dead person whose ballot was cast by someone else, an asterisk might always hang over that election, perhaps even for the Democratic loser.

Some of the blame for the demise of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity rightly lies with Mr. Trump himself. He probably erred in naming the Republican secretary of state of Kansas, Kris Kobach, arguably the country’s most ferocious foe of voter fraud, to be vice chairman of the commission.

Mr. Kobach gave Democrats cover for asserting that the panel’s mission could not be an objective, dispassionate examination of the nature and extent of the problem. But the Democrats’ own commitment to an impartial study was suspect, too, in their insistence that voter fraud is negligible if not nonexistent, a verdict without examining the evidence.

“This is just another wild goose chase and a bad idea,” said Alan King, a probate judge in Alabama, one of the five Democrats Mr. Trump appointed to the 11-member commission, suggesting that the Republicans were committed to voter suppression.

However, the cause of voter integrity is not dead. President Trump asked the Department of Homeland Security to assume the panel’s work and determine what to do next. The department will co-ordinate with the states about keeping election machines and other critical infrastructure secure and focused on citizenship data which the Department of Homeland Security already collects to weed out illegal voters.

J. Christian Adams, a Republican member of the disbanded commission, says its work could now continue without partisan obstructionism. “Foes of election integrity lost their seat at the table.” That’s good news for everybody.


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