By Ryan Lenz and Stephen Piggott
In an executive order signed in private, President Trump named Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who moonlights as an attorney for the legal arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), to serve as vice-chair of a commission to review claims of voter fraud, which will be chaired by Vice President Mike Pence.
The panel will “look at allegations of improper voting and fraudulent voter registration in states and across the nation,” The New York Times reported on Thursday. The commission’s formation follows Trump’s false claim that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election, costing him the popular vote.
Trump’s action was viewed by civil rights groups, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, as a vehicle to promote voter ID laws and other restrictions that suppress the votes of minorities and the poor.
As early as October, three weeks before Election Day, Trump questioned the legitimacy of the presidential vote, prompting many far-right extremists to warn of violence if Hillary Clinton were to win. Since then, the president has claimed, without any evidence, that as many as 5 million “illegals” voted.
All available research demonstrates that voter fraud is exceedingly rare. Trump’s claims have received no support from experts and little or none even from GOP politicians.
The White House said Kobach will co-chair the commission along with Vice President Mike Pence. Kobach has long advocated for highly restrictive voting laws.
“I’ve followed Kris Kobach’s career for 20 years. He is seriously dangerous, a xenophobic threat to democracy,” Jed Shugerman, a law professor at Fordham University, tweeted on May 11.
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Source: The Southern Poverty Law Center