It didn’t surprise me when I got an email from the White House on Wednesday night that President Trump had moved to dissolve the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. The move came without warning, but given how incredibly dysfunctional the process had been from the start, dissolution was inevitable. Twelve days earlier, U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled that as a member of the commission, I am entitled to share in the work of the commission and to know when and where we were meeting, what communications we were having and what the commission was working on. That shockingly obvious conclusion came only after I filed a lawsuit to get answers to those very basic questions. The demise of the commission was inevitable simply because the voter-fraud vampire hunters on the panel and in the White House prioritized a desired result of the commission’s work above any sense of process. It didn’t matter that evidence of actual voter misconduct is incredibly rare anywhere in the United States; we’ve all heard the ghost stories, and the Trump administration’s solution was to find those ghosts and exorcise them.
But that’s not how the Trump administration spun the commission’s work.
I, for one, took Vice President Pence at his word when he said at our initial meeting in Washington on July 19 that the commission would go forward without “preconceived notions or preordained results.” But statements made by Vice Chairman Kris Kobach (R) and the president have made it clear that not everyone shared that laudable philosophy. After dissolving the commission, the president said on Twitter that we need strong voter identification laws to fight rampant voter fraud, and Kobach explained that Trump’s directive to shift the work to the Department of Homeland Security represents a “tactical shift by the president who remains very committed to finding the scope of voter fraud.”
No preordained results. No preconceived notions. Indeed.