Amid concerns about the intent of President Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission, one of the strongest checks on any potential federal overreach could be an unassuming Republican from Vice President Mike Pence’s home state. As a member of Trump’s commission, Secretary of State Connie Lawson is charged with recommending federal policies to buckle down on potential voter fraud. But as the incoming leader of the National Association of Secretaries of State and an advocate for state control over elections, she is skeptical of federal involvement. That could put her at odds with the commission and its vocal vice chairman Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Making matters even trickier for Lawson, Pence — who continues to have a major influence in Indiana politics — chairs the commission.
Trump created the commission in May to study election integrity. He repeatedly has claimed without evidence that millions of fraudulent votes were cast in the 2016 election, costing him the popular vote. Critics worry the commission is intended to legitimize Trump’s claims and could result in more restrictive voter laws that make it harder to vote.
Initial signs of tension between Lawson and the committee’s leadership emerged this past week when, on behalf of the commission, Kobach asked for publicly available voter roll information from all 50 states, including voters’ names, addresses, birthdates and the last four digits of Social Security numbers.