The work of President Trump’s commission studying voter fraud and other voting problems has been stalled by the eight lawsuits filed against it, according to one commission member. Indiana’s Republican Secretary of State Connie Lawson says the suits, which seek release of all of the commission’s correspondence, among other things, have had a “chilling” effect. Some Democrats on the 11-member panel have complained in recent weeks that they’re being kept in the dark about its activities and plans. But Lawson says she doesn’t think anybody’s being shut out because “right now, there’s nothing going on.” Speaking to reporters after testifying about voting matters on Capitol Hill, Lawson says her understanding is “that they wanted to get some of these lawsuits settled and then move forward.” “It’s very chilling to know that you can’t really work without somebody suing over something that you’ve done,” she adds. “We’re not emailing each other. We’re not conversing with each other.”
Liberal advocacy groups have sued the commission, arguing that it is not complying with federal open records laws. The groups believe that the panel, which was formed after Trump alleged without evidence that up to five million people voted illegally last year, has been set up to justify policies such as requiring voters to show documents proving that they’re U.S. citizens.
The commission’s chair and vice chair, Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, both Republicans, have denied they have preconceived ideas about what the commission will recommend.
But actions by Kobach and others on the panel have fueled the suspicions. One lawsuit revealed that Kobach had proposed tightening proof-of-citizenship laws to the Trump presidential transition team. Kobach’s first act as vice chair was to send letters to all 50 states requesting detailed voter records, which Kobach says can be used to help identify illegal voting.