President Donald Trump kicked off the first meeting of his Advisory Commission on Election Integrity on Wednesday with a commitment to the principle of “one citizen, one vote” and upholding the integrity of the ballot box.

“Every time voter fraud occurs, it cancels out the vote of a lawful citizen and undermines democracy. Can’t let that happen. Any form of illegal or fraudulent voting, whether by non-citizens or the deceased, and any form of voter suppression or intimidation must be stopped.  

“If we want to make America great again, we have to protect the integrity of the vote and our voters.”  

“This is not a Democrat or a Republican issue, it’s an American issue,” Trump said.

The bipartisan commission includes experts in the field of election administration and law, including five current and former secretaries of state and three former U.S. Department of Justice civil rights attorneys.

Their fact-finding mission is to study states’ registration and voting processes to see what’s working and what needs improvement, then make recommendations based on those findings.

Voter roll accuracy tops the list of topics commissioners will study.

Vice President Mike Pence, who serves as the commission’s chairman, confirmed in the live-broadcast meeting that over 30 states (including Texas) have already agreed to provide their publicly available voter roll data – despite mostly partisan opposition and unfounded fears about sharing information that any individual could ask for and receive.

Christy McCormick, a former DOJ Voting Section attorney who currently serves on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, said she’d like the panel to look at the problem of inaccurate voter registration lists and how to keep people who are ineligible or operating in bad faith out of our voting systems. In her many years of observing elections, McCormick said, “I have yet to see a fully accurate voter list in any polling place across the country.”

Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) president J. Christian Adams, also a former DOJ Voting Section attorney, said that there have been “repeated instances of individuals in multiple states registering to vote even though they marked on their voter registration form that they are not citizens… How does this happen? How often does this happen? How can we improve the system?”

PILF found that between 2011 and 2017, more than 5,000 noncitizens who had illegally registered to vote in Virginia were removed from the voter rolls – but not before 1,852 of them had cast total of 7,474 illegal ballots.

“When you’ve got a system that allows people to mark, ‘No, I am not a citizen,’ and still get registered to vote, that system is broken,” Adams told NPR earlier this month.

The system is broken across the country. In Texas, a noncitizen was able to claim on her voter registration application that she was a U.S. citizen – a lie that allowed her to illegally vote multiple times because no one verifies voters’ citizenship, in Texas or elsewhere.

Commission vice chairman and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach fought in federal court for states’ ability to require proof of citizenship for registering voters, but the ACLU and the Obama administration argued that the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) prohibits states from asking voters to verify their citizenship.

Kobach’s idea is nothing new. An earlier presidential election commission, known as the Carter-Baker Commission, recommended back in 2005 that “all states should use their best efforts to obtain proof of citizenship before registering voters.”

What about other eligibility requirements? A recent federal prosecution of voter registration fraud revealed that, in Virginia at least, “there is no current entity that verifies the validity of voter registration forms” at all.

It’s an “honor system,” noted Hans von Spakovsky – one that creates an opportunity for fraudulent voting. The former DOJ attorney and Federal Election Commission member, now head of the Heritage Foundation’s Election Law Reform Initiative, presented commissioners with copies of Heritage’s voter fraud database, which documents over a thousand proven cases of voter fraud.

Yet many liberal groups and media outlets demonize any efforts to clean up voter rolls – something federal law requires – as voter “purges.”

Vanita Gupta, who served for a time as acting head of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division during the Obama administration, warned that the commission’s and DOJ’s requests for voter roll information are “likely the beginning of an effort to force unwarranted voter purges.”

Gupta now heads the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a left-wing “coalition” that includes all the groups consistently aligned against election integrity: ACLU, Advancement Project, Brennan Center, Demos, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, League of Women Voters, MALDEF, NAACP, and the now-defunct Project Vote, to name a few.

In fact, the “purging” Gupta and others denounce simply describes removing people from voter rolls who shouldn’t be on them: dead people, voters who have moved, noncitizens, ineligible felons. That type of voter list maintenance is required by a section of the NVRA (aka Motor Voter) that liberals prefer to ignore, just as they ignore evidence of voter fraud.

But as Pence reminded the panel, election integrity matters to every American.

Pence concluded that he’d “like to personally invite the American people to offer their public comments and input on our work, and the challenges and opportunities that face our electoral system.”

“We want to hear the voice of the American voter — because that’s really what this is all about.  You know, it’s the greatest privilege of my life to serve as Vice President to a President who cares so deeply about the integrity of America’s elections and the right of each and every American to see the sanctity of their vote protected.”  

Texas voters who care about election integrity can also make their voices heard at the state level by letting lawmakers know they support Gov. Greg Abbott’s anti-voter fraud reforms in the current special legislative session.

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Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.