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Expert Brief

Meet the Members of Trump’s “Voter Fraud” Commission

Many members of the Commission have controversial records or a long history of supporting voter suppression efforts.

Published: July 18, 2017


The Commis­sion is chaired by Vice Pres­id­ent Mike Pence. It’s vice chair, and moving force, is Kris Kobach, the Repub­lican Secret­ary of State of Kansas, who is also now running for Kansas governor. Along with Kobach, three other commis­sion­ers have extens­ive back­grounds in voter suppres­sion — Hans von Spakovsky of the Herit­age Found­a­tion, J. Chris­tian Adams, pres­id­ent of the Public Interest Legal Found­a­tion, and former Ohio Secret­ary of State J. Kenneth Black­well The other members include three secret­ar­ies of state, one Elec­tion Assist­ance Commis­sioner, and one former state repres­ent­at­ive. Over­all, the Commis­sion has seven Repub­lic­ans and five Demo­crats. Three of the Demo­crats — Alan Lamar King, David K. Dunn, and Mark Rhodes — were recom­men­ded to the Commis­sion by their respect­ive states’ Repub­lican chief elec­tion offi­cials.

Despite the fact that five Demo­crats currently serve as commis­sion­ers, the Commis­sion is in no way bipar­tisan. A bipar­tisan panel would be led by members of both parties, have an equal partisan split among commis­sion­ers, and capture a broad range of view­points. This Commis­sion, in contrast, is led by two staunch Repub­lic­ans, has a Repub­lican major­ity, and counts some of the nation’s lead­ing promoters of voting restric­tions among its ranks.

This partisan bent breaks with preced­ent set by previ­ous elec­tion panels. The 2013 Pres­id­en­tial Commis­sion on Elec­tion Admin­is­tra­tion was co-chaired by Robert Bauer and Benjamin Gins­berg, respect­ively the elec­tion lawyers for Barack Obama’s and Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaigns. A 2005 panel organ­ized by Amer­ican Univer­sity was co-chaired by former Pres­id­ent Jimmy Carter and former U.S. Secret­ary of State James A. Baker III, a Repub­lican. And former Pres­id­ents Ford and Carter were the honor­ary co-chairs of the 2001 National Commis­sion on Federal Elec­tion Reform organ­ized by the Univer­sity of Virginia.

The staff of prior commis­sions also included academ­ics from major research univer­sit­ies to direct fact-find­ing efforts. Pres­id­ent Trump’s Commis­sion lacks the scientific expert­ise of these past panels, further enabling partis­an­ship and bias to dictate its conclu­sions. 

The commis­sion­ers are listed below. You can click on their names to read addi­tional details about their profes­sional back­grounds and records on voting rights:

Vice Pres­id­ent Mike Pence (Chair)

  • Despite efforts to main­tain his distance, was part of a campaign that repeatedly claimed millions voted illeg­ally.
  • Came under criti­cism for large-scale voter fraud invest­ig­a­tion in Indi­ana target­ing a voter mobil­iz­a­tion group (charges have since been brought).

Kansas Secret­ary of State Kris Kobach (Vice Chair)

  • Driv­ing force behind a Kansas law that included both a strict photo ID require­ment to vote and proof of citizen­ship to register — which has blocked thou­sands of eligible citizens from the polls.
  • Has repeatedly made extra­vag­ant claims of in-person voter fraud or noncit­izen voting with little or no evid­ence.
  • Threatened with contempt last Septem­ber by a federal judge for not comply­ing fully with a court order requir­ing certain voters to be considered registered.
  • Sanc­tioned by a court this year for making “patently mislead­ing repres­ent­a­tions” about the contents of a docu­ment he was photo­graphed hold­ing after a meet­ing with Pres­id­ent Trump.
  • Even though he admit­ted he had no tangible evid­ence to support his claim, Kobach backed Trump’s tweet that there were “millions” of illegal votes in 2016. “I think the pres­id­ent-elect is abso­lutely correct when he says the number of illegal votes cast exceeds the popu­lar vote margin between him and Hillary Clin­ton at this point,” Kobach said three days after Trump’s tweet.

Hans von Spakovsky, Senior Legal Fellow, Herit­age Found­a­tion

  • Considered the intel­lec­tual godfather of the conser­vat­ive anti-voting move­ment, he pion­eered many of the legal and intel­lec­tual argu­ments followed by Kobach and other voter suppress­ors.
  • Held a senior role in the Depart­ment of Justice’s Civil Rights Divi­sion during the mid-2000s, when he shaped the Divi­sion’s pursuit of dubi­ous voter fraud invest­ig­a­tion­s—a pursuit that even­tu­ally led to the improper firing of several U.S. Attor­neys, govern­ment invest­ig­a­tions, four­teen congres­sional hear­ings, and the resig­na­tion of Attor­ney General Alberto Gonzales.
  • Was criti­cized for review­ing state photo ID require­ments while work­ing in the Justice Depart­ment while simul­tan­eously advoc­at­ing for them while writ­ing under a pseud­onym.
  • Was nomin­ated by Pres­id­ent George W. Bush to the Federal Elec­tion Commis­sion in 2005, sat on the Commis­sion by recess appoint­ment from 2006 to May 2008, when his nomin­a­tion was form­ally with­drawn after staunch oppos­i­tion by Senate Demo­crats.

J. Chris­tian Adams, Pres­id­ent and General Coun­sel, Public Interest Legal Found­a­tion 

  • Pres­id­ent and general coun­sel of the Public Interest Legal Found­a­tion, a conser­vat­ive group that has brought numer­ous demand­ing elec­tion offi­cials aggress­ively purge voter rolls.
  • Attor­ney in the Justice Depart­ment’s Voting section from 2005 to 2010; resigned and alleged that DOJ was hostile to bring­ing voting rights cases on behalf of white plaintiffs against nonwhite defend­ants.
  • Actively promotes alleg­a­tions of wide­spread non-citizen voting.

Former Ohio Secret­ary of State Ken Black­well

  • Over­saw a 2004 Ohio elec­tion that had so many prob­lems, the New York Times called it an “example for every ailment in the United States’ elect­oral process.”
  • Ran the 2004 elec­tion Ohio while also serving as state co-chair for Pres­id­ent Bush’s re-elec­tion campaign.
  • Viol­ated federal law by limit­ing access to provi­sional ballots.
  • Direc­ted his office to accept voter regis­tra­tion forms only if submit­ted on a partic­u­lar thick­ness of card stock, lead­ing to the rejec­tion of numer­ous regis­tra­tion applic­a­tions.
  • His office improp­erly posted voters’ full social secur­ity numbers online, and then took months to remove them. 

Indi­ana Secret­ary of State Connie Lawson

  • As a state senator in 2005, co-sponsored and passed the nation’s first strict photo ID law.
  • A Repub­lican, Lawson is a former Major­ity Floor Leader in the Indi­ana Senate. She was selec­ted as Secret­ary of State in 2012, and won the office outright in 2014. She is up for re-elec­tion in 2018. Lawson is also the pres­id­ent of the National Asso­ci­ation of Secret­ar­ies of State.

U.S. Elec­tion Assist­ance Commis­sion (EAC) Commis­sioner Christy McCormick

  • Attemp­ted to hamper a lawsuit chal­len­ging the EAC’s decision to allow three states to require docu­ment­ary proof of citizen­ship from indi­vidu­als regis­ter­ing to vote with a federal voter regis­tra­tion form. She also broke with her fellow commis­sion­ers to aid Kris Kobach in the same suit.

New Hamp­shire Secret­ary of State William Gard­ner

  • Has suppor­ted legis­la­tion that could suppress votes, includ­ing a contro­ver­sial state senate bill that, as origin­ally writ­ten, could have prohib­ited many college students from regis­ter­ing.
  • Expressed skep­ti­cism multiple times about the National Voter Regis­tra­tion Act of 1993, also known as “Motor Voter” a law cred­ited with making voter regis­tra­tion more access­ible. 
  • Voted in favor of a National Asso­ci­ation of Secret­ar­ies of State (NASS) resol­u­tion oppos­ing the contin­ued author­iz­a­tion and fund­ing of the EAC.

Maine Secret­ary of State Matthew Dunlap

  • A Demo­crat, Dunlap has done two stints as Maine’s Secret­ary of State, who is elec­ted bien­ni­ally by the state legis­lature. Dunlap was in office from 2005 to 2011, and then was ousted for one term when Repub­lic­ans controlled the legis­lature. He was re-elec­ted when Demo­crats resumed control after the 2012 elec­tions, and was selec­ted again in 2014.
  • Has criti­cized accus­a­tions of wide­spread voter fraud and opposed voter ID legis­la­tion.
  • Prior Pres­id­ent of the National Asso­ci­ation of Secret­ar­ies of State (NASS); voted in favor of a NASS resol­u­tion oppos­ing the contin­ued author­iz­a­tion and fund­ing of the EAC.

Former Arkan­sas State Repres­ent­at­ive David K. Dunn (Deceased)

  • Served in the Arkan­sas House of Repres­ent­at­ives from 2004–10.
  • Sponsored legis­la­tion that would have required Arkansas’s pres­id­en­tial elect­ors to vote for the winner of the national popu­lar vote.
  • Repres­ent­at­ive Dunn passed away on Octo­ber 16, 2017. He was 52-years-old. 

Wood County (WV) Clerk Mark Rhodes

  • Serves 56,000 voters in his current posi­tion and was a deputy clerk in the same office before that.

Jeffer­son County (AL) Probate Judge Alan King

  • In Alabama, the presid­ing probate judge is the top elec­tion offi­cial in each county. Jeffer­son County, which includes Birm­ing­ham, is the state’s largest, with 450,00 registered voters.
  • King, a Demo­crat, has been super­vising elec­tions in Jeffer­son County since 2007.
  • King was recom­men­ded for the Commis­sion by Alabama Secret­ary of State John Merrill, a Repub­lican.
  • Has rejec­ted Pres­id­ent Trump’s claims of wide­spread voter fraud. 

Mary­land Deputy Secret­ary of State Luis Borunda (Resigned)

  • Works in an agency whose respons­ib­il­it­ies include organ­iz­a­tion regis­tra­tions, trade­mark regis­tra­tions, and certain exec­ut­ive func­tions. While the office certi­fies candid­ates and serves on the state canvassing board, elec­tions in Mary­land are admin­istered by the State Board of Elec­tions.

 

Vice Pres­id­ent Mike Pence (Chair)

The genesis of the Commis­sion stems from a Novem­ber 27, 2016 Trump tweet that said, “In addi­tion to winning the Elect­oral College in a land­slide, I won the popu­lar vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illeg­ally.” To the extent Pence has been asked about that tweet, he has said the pres­id­ent has the “right to express his opin­ion” and that he does not know if the tweet “is a false state­ment.”

But whatever distance Pence has main­tained from the pres­id­ent, he has his own recent history of making voter fraud claims. During last year’s pres­id­en­tial campaign, he boas­ted, “I’ll tell you, in the state of Indi­ana right now, we’ve got a pretty vigor­ous invest­ig­a­tion into voter fraud going on.” He was refer­ring to a state police invest­ig­a­tion that included activ­ity in 56 counties and a raid of the offices of a group work­ing to mobil­ize low-income and minor­ity voters, and alleged to have submit­ted false regis­tra­tions. That large-scale invest­ig­a­tion even­tu­ally led to charges not of fraud­u­lent voting, but of twelve employ­ees and the organ­iz­a­tion for submit­ted false regis­tra­tion applic­a­tions to meet their quota require­ment for compens­a­tion — a busi­ness prac­tice that experts distin­guish from someone actu­ally cast­ing an unlaw­ful ballot. The county prosec­utor announced “that these are not alleg­a­tions of voter fraud nor is there any evid­ence to suggest that voter fraud was the alleged motiv­a­tion.”

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Hans von Spakovsky

Hans von Spakovsky, now a Senior Legal Fellow at the Herit­age Found­a­tion, has been at the fore­front of claim­ing wide­spread voter fraud and the neces­sity for strict voting laws for nearly two decades. Von Spakovsky is one of the lead­ing intel­lec­tual forces behind the wave of conser­vat­ive activ­ist efforts in elec­tion law — where his record was so extens­ive that civil rights groups success­fully blocked his 2007 nomin­a­tion to a full seat on the Federal Elec­tion Commis­sion. His anonym­ous 2005 law review article — published while he was an offi­cial at the Justice Depart­ment — made an early case for strict photo ID require­ments, and his later writ­ings on the topic include a book, with John Fund, titled Who’s Count­ing?: How Fraud­sters and Bureau­crats Put Your Vote at Risk.

Von Spakovsky came to the Justice Depart­ment in 2001 follow­ing an early career in Geor­gia, where he served on the Fulton County (Atlanta) Board of Regis­tra­tion and Elec­tion. He quickly rose in the Depart­ment’s ranks and became coun­sel to the Assist­ant Attor­ney General for Civil Rights.

In that role, he was a key figure in advan­cing policies that limited access to the polls and shap­ing what crit­ics regarded as the inap­pro­pri­ate politi­ciz­a­tion of Depart­ment matters. At the time, he claimed that states had no oblig­a­tion to provide provi­sional ballots to certain voters, despite a federal law requir­ing exactly that. And under his lead­er­ship, DOJ pushed states to reject voter regis­tra­tion applic­a­tions that did not exactly match data from other govern­ment data­bases — a policy that in Los Angeles led to over 18 percent of regis­tra­tions being blocked due to typo­graph­ical or tech­nical errors. Courts ulti­mately rejec­ted the idea that federal law required this prac­tice, and states even­tu­ally aban­doned it. He also pres­sured the U.S. Elec­tion Assist­ance Commis­sion to allow Arizona to require docu­ment­ary proof of citizen­ship from people regis­ter­ing to vote with the federal regis­tra­tion form — an effort the agency resisted.

Von Spakovsky’s hand­ling of a 2005 Geor­gia law is a telling example of his approach. In 2005, the state passed a strict photo ID law, which required approval from the Justice Depart­ment. Four of the five Justice staffers who reviewed the law opposed it, saying eligible black voters were less likely to have required ID than whites.

Eight years earlier, in a public policy paper, von Spakovsky wrote, “Geor­gia should require all poten­tial voters to present reli­able photo iden­ti­fic­a­tion at their polling loca­tion to help prevent impost­ors from voting.” And while the Geor­gia case was pending, Spakovsky published his anonym­ous law review article that advoc­ated for photo voter ID. “Prov­ing or veri­fy­ing the voter’s iden­tity should also apply across the board to all voters when they register to vote… Further­more, a photo iden­ti­fic­a­tion should be required as proof of iden­tity,” Spakovsky wrote. Despite the staff recom­mend­a­tion, von Spakovsky and other senior Justice offi­cials approved the Geor­gia law.

The Bren­nan Center and other voting rights organ­iz­a­tions contend that von Spakovsky should have recused himself from the matter for two reas­ons. First, von Spakovsky was a former Repub­lican elec­tion offi­cial from Geor­gia and a long­time advoc­ate for voter ID laws in that state and else­where. Second, federal law prohib­its Justice employ­ees from enga­ging in outside activ­it­ies that conflict with their work­place duties, includ­ing the duty of impar­ti­al­ity.

These prac­tices even­tu­ally exac­ted a heavy price on the Depart­ment of Justice. With von Spakovsky in a crit­ical lead­er­ship posi­tion, the DOJ lead­er­ship at the time so prior­it­ized the pursuit of voter fraud invest­ig­a­tions that it led to the improper firing of several U.S. Attor­neys, govern­ment invest­ig­a­tions, four­teen congres­sional hear­ings, and the resig­na­tion of Attor­ney General Alberto Gonzales.

Upon leav­ing DOJ, Von Spakovsky received a recess appoint­ment to the Federal Elec­tion Commis­sion and was nomin­ated to a perman­ent seat in 2006. At the time, the Bren­nan Center joined other advoc­ates in oppos­i­tion to his nomin­a­tion and wrote: “given the contro­versy surround­ing Mr. von Spakovsky’s tenure at the Depart­ment of Justice, and his fail­ure to alle­vi­ate that contro­versy in his responses to ques­tions submit­ted in commit­tee, seri­ous ques­tions remain concern­ing his abil­ity to discharge his duties on the FEC with the unbiased care required.” Von Spakovsky with­drew his nomin­a­tion in 2007. His posi­tion on the Pres­id­en­tial Advis­ory Commis­sion on Elec­tion Integ­rity is his first govern­ment posi­tion since.

Today, Von Spakovsky also serves on the Policy Board of the Amer­ican Civil Rights Union (ACRU), a conser­vat­ive activ­ist legal group, which has brought claims against several state elec­tion offi­cials for not remov­ing ineligible voters from the rolls, allow­ing non-citizens to vote, and not provid­ing records of main­ten­ance of voting rolls. ACRU has also worked closely with von Spakovsky’s fellow Commis­sion member, J. Chris­tian Adams, and his group, the Public Interest Legal Found­a­tion (PILF). In 2016, PILF repres­en­ted ACRU in suit seek­ing to compel elec­tion offi­cials in Broward County, Flor­ida to imple­ment more aggress­ive purging prac­tices. The case is ongo­ing.

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J. Chris­tian Adams

J. Chris­tian Adams is the Pres­id­ent and General Coun­sel of the Public Interest Legal Found­a­tion (PILF), a conser­vat­ive legal organ­iz­a­tion that has attemp­ted to use litig­a­tion to support restrict­ive voting laws and aggress­ive purges of regis­tra­tion lists. Adams, like a number of his fellow Commis­sion members, is a vocal supporter of voting restric­tions like strict photo ID and docu­ment­ary proof of citizen­ship. He has used both the courts and public discourse to advance this agenda and promote alleg­a­tions of systemic voter fraud.

PILF’s litig­a­tion docket consists largely of cases brought to force states to more aggress­ively purge their voter rolls. Crit­ics contend aggress­ive purges can end up remov­ing eligible minor­ity voters from the rolls, and that Adams has focused his efforts on places with a history of racial discrim­in­a­tion. PILF filed four of these cases in 2016 alone, in Flor­ida, North Caro­lina, Texas, and Virginia. The Flor­ida and Texas cases are ongo­ing, the North Caro­lina case settled, and the Virginia case was dismissed outright.

Adams also actively defends chal­lenges to voting restric­tions. Last year, PILF joined Kris Kobach to inter­vene in a suit brought by the Bren­nan Center and other civil rights organ­iz­a­tions against the Elec­tion Assist­ance Commis­sion. That suit, League of Women Voters v. Newby, chal­lenged the EAC exec­ut­ive direct­or’s decision to allow three states to require docu­ment­ary proof of citizen­ship for people regis­ter­ing to vote with the federal mail-in voter regis­tra­tion form. PILF joined Kobach to defend the direct­or’s decision; fellow Commis­sion member Christy McCormick refused repres­ent­a­tion from DOJ and retained the contro­ver­sial activ­ist group Judi­cial Watch as her personal coun­sel.

Outside the courtroom, Adams has aggress­ively promoted the exist­ence of wide­spread voter fraud and non-citizen voting. In May, his organ­iz­a­tion published a report alleging that Virginia elec­tion offi­cials cancelled over 5,000 voter regis­tra­tions by non-citizens between 2011 and 2016. Prof. Justin Levitt of Loyola Law School and author of the Bren­nan Center’s Truth About Voter Fraud report, said the PILF report’s meth­od­o­logy appeared “specific­ally designed… to get inac­cur­ate inform­a­tion.” In June, the Wash­ing­ton Times repor­ted on a voter who appeared in PILF’s report, but who was actu­ally a natural-born U.S. citizen erro­neously removed from the rolls.

Adams is also a colum­nist for right-lean­ing PJ Media,which he uses as a plat­form for his views. Last year, he wrote of Ohio: “[w]hoever says voter fraud is a myth does­n’t know much about Ohio.” He offered this nation­wide assess­ment prior the pres­id­en­tial elec­tion: “[t]ens of thou­sands of aliens are on Amer­ican voter rolls, if not more. And they’re voting.” And this past April, he described those who oppose more restrict­ive voting laws as “engaged in a coordin­ated crusade to preserve elec­tion vulner­ab­il­it­ies.”

Adams first came to prom­in­ence after resign­ing from the Depart­ment of Justice, where he served in the voting section in the Civil Rights Divi­sion from 2005 to 2010. At the time, he alleged that racial bias motiv­ated DOJ to drop a voter intim­id­a­tion suit against a group called the New Black Panther Party. At the time, Adams wrote that dismissal of the matter was the result of an “open and pervas­ive hostil­ity… to bring­ing civil rights cases against nonwhite defend­ants on behalf of white victims.” The Depart­ment main­tained that the case was dropped on the merits. The U.S. Civil Rights Commis­sion published a report in which its then-conser­vat­ive major­ity sided with Adams, 5–3. The dissent­ers included another Repub­lican appointee, who called the major­ity report “tenden­tious.” Adams later authored a book titled Injustice: Expos­ing the Racial Agenda of the Obama Justice Depart­ment.

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Indi­ana Secret­ary of State Connie Lawson

Connie Lawson, a Repub­lican, was appoin­ted to serve as Indi­ana Secret­ary of State in 2012 by Gov. Mitch Daniels. She previ­ously served 16 years as an Indi­ana state senator, includ­ing a period as Major­ity Floor Leader. Lawson co-sponsored the nation’s first strict photo ID law, which does­n’t allow Indi­anans to cast a ballot unless they present one of a limited list of govern­ment-issued photo ID, such as a driver’s license or pass­port (or meet certain narrow excep­tions). Research shows that as many as 11 percent of other­wise eligible voters lack these docu­ments.

While Lawson has suppor­ted restrict­ive meas­ures such as Indi­ana’s Voter ID law, she also suppor­ted reforms to improve voter access, like online voter regis­tra­tion, and a bill that would have allowed “no excuse” in-person early voting. Such a meas­ure would allow a voter to vote early without having to recite a valid reason for not voting on Elec­tion Day. The current Senate Minor­ity Leader, Demo­crat Tim Lanane, said of Lawson, “I don’t view her as someone who has gone out of the way to deprive people [of] the right to vote.”

Lawson has been caught-up in a long-running contro­versy involving a voter regis­tra­tion group and the 2016 elec­tion. In early Octo­ber, state police raided the Indi­ana­polis offices of the Indi­ana Voter Regis­tra­tion Project, an effort to register minor­ity voters for the 2016 elec­tion. The suspi­cion was that the Project was submit­ting voter regis­tra­tion forms that were miss­ing inform­a­tion or down­right fraud­u­lent. About two weeks after the raid, Lawson weighed in, saying “thou­sands of dates of births and first names were changed,” in the state’s voter regis­tra­tion data­base and that “We believe this may be a case of voter fraud and have turned our find­ings over to the State Police…”

The state police, in turn, expan­ded its invest­ig­a­tion from two to more than half of Indi­ana’s counties. Ulti­mately, twelve Voter Regis­tra­tion Project employ­ees were accused of submit­ting fals­i­fied voter regis­tra­tion forms so they could meet their quotas and get paid. “Let me be clear that these are not alleg­a­tions of voter fraud nor is there any evid­ence to suggest that voter fraud was the alleged motiv­a­tion,” said Marion County (Indi­ana­polis) prosec­utor Terry Curry.

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U.S. Elec­tion Assist­ance Commis­sion (EAC) Commis­sioner Christy McCormick

Christy McCormick, a Repub­lican, was appoin­ted to the Elec­tion Assist­ance Commis­sion in 2014. She previ­ously served as a senior trial attor­ney in the Civil Rights Divi­sion of the Depart­ment of Justice from 2006 until 2014, where she prosec­uted viol­a­tions of federal voting law.

In 2016, McCormick broke with her fellow commis­sion­ers to aid Kris Kobach’s inter­ven­tion in a lawsuit brought by the Bren­nan Center and other civil rights organ­iz­a­tions against the Elec­tion Assist­ance Commis­sion. That suit, League of Women Voters v. Newby, chal­lenged the EAC exec­ut­ive direct­or’s decision to allow three states to require docu­ment­ary proof of citizen­ship from indi­vidu­als regis­ter­ing to vote with the federal mail-in voter regis­tra­tion form. Kobach inter­vened to defend the direct­or’s decision. McCormick opposed DOJ’s litig­a­tion posi­tion with respect to the proof of citizen­ship require­ment — first attempt­ing to reject the Depart­ment of Justice as the agency’s attor­ney, and then retain­ing the contro­ver­sial activ­ist group Judi­cial Watch as her personal coun­sel. As the case proceeded, McCormick repeatedly tried to release priv­ileged inform­a­tion relat­ing to the DOJ’s repres­ent­a­tion of the EAC — first in a depos­ition reques­ted by Secret­ary Kobach and whose contents remained sealed to the public, and subsequently in affi­davits that were rejec­ted by the court. The case remains ongo­ing.

In a Janu­ary state­ment oppos­ing the desig­na­tion of elec­tion systems as crit­ical infra­struc­ture, McCormick was crit­ical of alleg­a­tions of foreign inter­fer­ence in the 2016 elec­tion. She wrote that a declas­si­fied govern­ment report’s “alleg­a­tion that Russian intel­li­gence had ‘obtained and main­tained access to elements of multiple U.S. state or local elect­oral boards’ [was] patently untrue.” McCormick further conten­ded that “[t]he only actual evid­ence of… meddling in state and local elect­oral boards is attemp­ted meddling from our own Depart­ment of Home­land Secur­ity[.]” In fact, subsequent disclos­ures in the press have revealed further details on attemp­ted foreign inter­fer­ence in last year’s elec­tion, includ­ing a Bloomberg report that “Russian hack­ers hit systems in a total of 39 states.”

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New Hamp­shire Secret­ary of State William Gard­ner

William Gard­ner, a Demo­crat, was first elec­ted to serve as Secret­ary of State by the New Hamp­shire State Legis­lature in 1976, and has been reelec­ted by the State Legis­lature ever since. Over the years, he has taken posi­tions that have placed him on all sides of debates over voter access.

Garner has directly disputed Pres­id­ent Trump’s fraud claims that out-of-state resid­ents were bused into New Hamp­shire to cast ballots, noting “we have never gotten any proof about buses show­ing up at polling places.” Never­the­less, he test­i­fied in favor of a contro­ver­sial state senate bill that, as origin­ally writ­ten, would have changed the stand­ard of resid­ency for voting such that college students who move to New Hamp­shire from out-of-state might have been ineligible to register and vote. The bill’s final, passed version was changed in a few ways, but remains contro­ver­sial because it requires voters to show docu­ments that prove resid­ency.  So far, Gard­ner has not commen­ted on the passed version of the bill.

Gard­ner has also been crit­ical of the National Voter Regis­tra­tion Act of 1993, which, among For almost a quarter century, Gard­ner has been an oppon­ent of the National Voter Regis­tra­tion Act (NVRA), which allows people to register at govern­ment offices, such as the DMV. He has argued that more should be expec­ted of those seek­ing to register, and that the NVRA may increase regis­tra­tion but not neces­sar­ily. In a state­ment to the U.S. Senate when it was debat­ing the NVRA in 1993, Gard­ner wrote:

The Secret­ary of State’s Office has been commit­ted to elim­in­at­ing past barri­ers to voting and feels strongly that the rights of all eligible persons to vote should be guar­an­teed, it also assumes that these same persons will take some respons­ib­il­ity as citizens, as Pres­id­ent Clin­ton asked for in his inaug­ural address.

This bill attempts to describe those voting age citizens who haven’t taken the time to register to vote as victims of a system which has delib­er­ately attemp­ted to make it diffi­cult for them to vote. We, on the other hand, would ask, why should the 80 percent of the eligible voters in New Hamp­shire who have made the effort to register spend their tax dollars on the 20 percent who have not done so, espe­cially when in our depressed economy we have so many other seri­ous needs?

While Gard­ner believes that lower­ing barri­ers to regis­tra­tion won’t neces­sar­ily increase turnout, he also believes that restric­tions on voting, such as photo ID, won’t harm it. “Our turnout has been increas­ing and it has increased in the two pres­id­en­tial elec­tions that we’ve had photo ID,” he told WMUR after he was named to the Commis­sion. “There had been a lot of talk that it would hurt turnout, but it certainly didn’t hurt it here.”

Gard­ner has expressed doubt that a voter fraud invest­ig­a­tion would produce much evid­ence. He explained recently that he is join­ing the Commis­sion “to solve that ques­tion of why so many people believe there is voter fraud.”

In 2015, he joined three of his fellow Commis­sion members (Kobach, Lawson, and Dunlap), who, in their capa­city as a secret­ary of state, voted for the NASS resol­u­tion oppos­ing the contin­ued author­iz­a­tion and fund­ing of the EAC.

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Maine Secret­ary of State Matthew Dunlap

Matthew Dunlap, a Demo­crat, served as Maine Secret­ary of State from 2005 to 2011 and has served in his current term since 2013. He has also discussed the possib­il­ity of running for governor in 2018.

Dunlap spoke last fall in oppos­i­tion to Trump’s voter fraud claims, telling local media: “[i]t is frus­trat­ing for me… Among secret­ar­ies of state, we’ve been very concerned about the rhet­oric around the conduct of the elec­tion… The process works.” He has also spoken out against photo ID laws, arguing that they provide “no addi­tional secur­ity” and that he views such laws as a “cynical approach to keep low-income people, people under finan­cial stress, minor­it­ies, [and] the elderly from parti­cip­at­ing in their demo­cratic form of self governance.”

Nonethe­less, Dunlap remains cautiously open minded about the work of the Commis­sion.  Follow­ing the contro­versy over the Commis­sion’s request for voter data, he stated “If we do uncover substan­ti­ations of perhaps thou­sands or hundreds of thou­sands, or millions [of illegal voters], then we’ve got a real prob­lem on our hands. . . I don’t think we’re going to find that.” He has asser­ted that it’s better to parti­cip­ate in the work of the Commis­sion, at least initially.

Although he has already discussed the possib­il­ity of resign­ing in protest, Dunlap remains cautiously open-minded about the Commis­sion. He has already defen­ded it. In the midst of the reac­tion to the Commis­sion’s reac­tion for huge amounts of voter data, Dunlap said, “If we do uncover substan­ti­ations of perhaps thou­sands or hundreds of thou­sands, or millions [of illegal voters], then we’ve got a real prob­lem on our hands. . . I don’t think we’re going to find that.”

Dunlap also believes he can work Commis­sion Vice Chair Kris Kobach. “I have spent a little bit of time with Kris Kobach over the years. [About] 95% of his polit­ics, I don’t agree with. But I’ve had dinner with the man. I’ve never seen him eat human flesh yet,” Dunlap said. “I think that he’s some­body I can work with fairly honestly, and if they try to put me in a posi­tion of advoc­at­ing some­thing I don’t believe in, you can bet I’ll have the bull­horn in my hand. I’m sure he’ll respect that."

Dunlap is also one of four Commis­sion members (along­side Kobach, Lawson, and Gard­ner) who, as a secret­ary of state, voted for a NASS resol­u­tion oppos­ing the contin­ued author­iz­a­tion and fund­ing of the EAC.

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David K. Dunn

David K. Dunn, a Demo­crat, served in Arkansas’ House of Repres­ent­at­ives from 2004–2010. He subsequently co-foun­ded the lobby­ing group Capitol Part­ners LLC.

Dunn sponsored an unsuc­cess­ful 2007 bill that would have compelled Arkansas’ pres­id­en­tial elect­ors to cast their vote for the winner of the national popu­lar vote, regard­less of the results in Arkan­sas. Dunn was reportedly recom­men­ded for the Commis­sion by Arkan­sas Secret­ary of State Mark Martin, a Repub­lican and Dunn’s former legis­lat­ive colleague.

Follow­ing his appoint­ment to the Commis­sion, Dunn told the press, “I don’t know why this has fallen on my shoulder­s…I’m just going to do the best I can, to be honest.” He also said in that same inter­view that he does not believe that millions voted illeg­ally in 2016, and that Kobach told him he was not look­ing for commis­sion­ers to simply agree with the Commis­sion’s desired outcomes.

Dunn passed away Octo­ber 16, 2017. He was 52-years-old. 

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Wood County (WV) Clerk Mark Rhodes

Mark Rhodes, a Demo­crat, is currently the County Clerk of Wood County, West Virginia. He previ­ously served as Deputy County Clerk.

Rhodes over­sees elec­tions for over 56,000 voters in Wood County. Rhodes has under­taken several initi­at­ives to main­tain accur­ate voter rolls, and also super­vised the intro­duc­tion of an online voter regis­tra­tion applic­a­tion system in 2015. In 2016, Rhodes also encour­aged voters to bring iden­ti­fic­a­tion to the polls if possible, even though West Virgini­a’s voter iden­ti­fic­a­tion law does not go into effect until 2018.

After his appoint­ment, Rhodes told the press that he believes West Virgini­a’s secret­ary of state recom­men­ded his appoint­ment to the Voter Fraud Commis­sion because Commis­sion Chair Mike Pence and Vice Chair Kris Kobach were search­ing for a Demo­cratic county clerk and “there’s not a whole lot of those in West Virginia.” Rhodes said he “believe[s] in the integ­rity of the elec­tion” and that his goal is to “help show that elec­tions are honest.” In that same inter­view, he repor­ted he had never heard any claims of voter fraud in his four years as a clerk, and that he does not think the Commis­sion will focus on Pres­id­ent Trump’s claim of voter fraud. However, Rhodes said he is will­ing to invest­ig­ate to determ­ine whether evid­ence of fraud exists.

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Jeffer­son County (AL) Probate Judge Alan King

As Jeffer­son’s County’s top elec­tion offi­cial, Alan King, works along­side other county agen­cies respons­ible for aspects of staging elec­tions in Alabama, includ­ing the county regis­trar, circuit clerk, and sher­iff.

When Trump asser­ted last Octo­ber that “Of course, there is large scale voter fraud happen­ing on and before Elec­tion Day,” King respon­ded in the press. “It is a comment without any support­ing docu­ment­a­tion what­so­ever, and I can assure the citizens of Jeffer­son County, we do everything exactly right,” he said.

King also made his views clear after his appoint­ment to the Commis­sion. “They are aware I am a life-long Demo­crat,” King said. “And I informed them that there was not any voter fraud in Jeffer­son County and there has not been any voter fraud for 30 years or more than that.”

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Mary­land Deputy Secret­ary of State Luis Borunda (Resigned)

Luis Borunda, a Repub­lican, has served as Maryland’s Deputy Secret­ary of State since Janu­ary 2015. Borunda has made few public state­ments regard­ing elec­tions or voting. The Mary­land Secret­ary of State’s respons­ib­il­it­ies include organ­iz­a­tion regis­tra­tions, trade­mark regis­tra­tions, and certain exec­ut­ive func­tions. While the office certi­fies candid­ates and serves on the state canvassing board, elec­tions in Mary­land are admin­istered by the State Board of Elec­tions.

Several days after the announce­ment of his appoint­ment to the Commis­sion, Borunda resigned from his post. He made no public state­ment at the time.

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