Trump’s “Voter Fraud” Commission


On May 11, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order creating the “Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.” The Commission is charged with studying “the registration and voting processes used in Federal elections” and identifying “vulnerabilities in voting systems” that could lead to voter fraud. Vice President Mike Pence is the chair, and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach — a known promoter of voting restrictions and the myth of voter fraud — is the vice chair. It met for the first time on July 19 in Washington, D.C, and again on September 12 in Manchester, New Hampshire. 

The Commission was created in the wake of President Trump’s repeated assertions that millions voted illegally in the 2016 election. For years, claims of fraud have been used to justify unwarranted voting restrictions. There is strong reason to suspect this Commission is not a legitimate attempt to study elections, but rather a tool for enabling voter suppression. You can read more about the Commission's background here

The work of the Commission could result in a wave of serious, new barriers preventing Americans from exercising their fundamental right to vote.

The Myth of Voter Fraud

Study after study has demonstrated that fraud by voters at the polls is vanishingly rare, and members of President Trump’s own party have refuted his assertions. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell explicitly stated that we should not “spend any federal money investigating” voter fraud.

Commission Members' Controversial Records on Voting

Vice President Mike Pence is the chair of the Commission, and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is the vice chair. Four Commissioners — Kris Kobach, Hans von Spakovsky, J. Christian Adams, and J. Kenneth Blackwell — have particularly long track records of voter suppression.

Assessing the Commission's Evidence

Commissioners have repeatedly cited misleading or patently untrue evidence to support their baseless claims of voter fraud. Here are some of those pieces of evidence, and resources that refute them. 

The Commission's Controversies

The Commission has been mired in controversy since its inception. Here are some of the most prominent examples. 

Responses to the Commission's Request for Voter File Data

State and advocacy group responses to Kris Kobach's request for state voter file data.

Legal Actions Taken Against the Commission

Organizations have filed legal challenges against the Commission on a variety of transparency, privacy, and administrative policy grounds.

Investigating the Commission

The Brennan Center and other civic groups have filed public records requests to better understand the Commission’s goals, operations, and the steps that led to its founding.

Criticism of the Commission

The Brennan Center, along with the press and a wide range of civic and nonpartisan groups, have criticized the Commission’s composition, premises, and actions.


Recent Research

Recent Commentary