Trump: 'We have to protect the integrity of the vote'
Posted July 19
President Donald Trump reaffirmed the mission of his controversial commission on election integrity at the group's first meeting Wednesday morning.
"We want to make America great again. We have to protect the integrity of the vote and our voters," Trump said.
The President commended the states that have already provided the voter registration data requested last month by the commission's vice chair, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. But Trump questioned why some states have refused to participate at all.
"If any state does not want to share this information, one has to wonder what they're worried about. And I asked the vice president, I asked the commission, what are they worried about? There's something. There always is," Trump said.
The President urged states to give their "full support and total cooperation in this effort," adding that "most of them have really done brilliantly and we appreciate it and the rest -- all of that information will be forthcoming."
Some states have refused to provide any information -- even publicly available data -- and representatives from almost all states have expressed concerns about the commission's methods and motivations.
"Let me be clear, this commission has no preconceived conditions or preordained results. We're fact-finders," Vice President Mike Pence, who chairs the commission, said in his opening remarks.
Pence also said the commission was committed to openness and transparency, encouraging members of the public to share their views about voter fraud via email.
"We want to hear the voice of the American voter because that's really what this is all about," the vice president said.
Trump echoed Pence's remarks, saying that voter fraud was also a concern of many of the Americans he met along the campaign trail.
"This issue is important to me because throughout the campaign, people would come up to me and express their concerns about voter inconsistencies and irregularities which they saw, in some cases having to do with very large numbers of people in certain states," Trump said.
The White House established the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity by executive order in May to examine the possibility of voter fraud, which Trump has repeatedly decried as a large-scale problem. Many investigations, however, have found virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections.
"It's important to remember how this started," former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, a Democrat who is the chair of the Commission on Protecting American Democracy, said at a news conference Wednesday morning. "It started with the biggest lie that a sitting president has ever told. When President-elect Trump said that 3 to 5 million illegal voters had voted in the election."
The commission has received strong pushback since Kobach sent a letter to all 50 states last month requesting sensitive voter registration data, including registrants' full names, addresses, dates of birth, political parties, the last four digits of their social security numbers, a list of the elections they voted in since 2006, information on any felony convictions, information on whether they were registered to vote in other states, their military status, and whether they lived overseas.
On Tuesday, four top Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to Pence requesting Kobach's removal from the commission, and more than 70 lawmakers signed a letter to Kobach urging him to withdraw his request due to security and privacy concerns.
"Our elections are in trouble," said Alabama Democratic Rep. Terri Sewell, co-chair of the Congressional Voting Rights Caucus, "But it's not because of voter fraud. It's because of voter suppression. It's because of our outdated infrastructure."