Shrugging off complaints about whether it is even necessary, President Trump’s commission on voter fraud doubled down when it met for the first time on Wednesday and asked its staff to look into assembling vast new caches of information on individuals. The commission indicated it wants to collect information already held by the federal government and tasked the staff with getting the Department of Homeland Security to turn over data on people applying for citizenship, since they must check off a box indicating whether they have registered to vote. The panel also discussed seeking information on people who have attempted to get out of jury duty by claiming to be noncitizens. The reason: Jury lists come from voter rolls, so noncitizens shouldn’t be on the list to begin with. Most experts say voter fraud is extremely rare in the United States, and the commission has already come under heavy criticism for trying to scoop up personal data on voters in every state.
The panel, led by Vice President Mike Pence, is among the earliest examples of Trump’s translating his “us-against-them” political philosophy into governance: Most of its focus on Wednesday was about shoring up the country’s voting systems against what Trump perceives as domestic threats, even though there’s been no evidence of Americans engaging in widespread fraud.
The president alleged large-scale voter fraud last fall, and he continued the charge on Wednesday. Previously, despite lacking any evidence and in defiance of most experts, he had made the claim to explain why he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton.
“This issue is very important to me because during the campaign and after people would come up to me and express their concerns about voter inconsistencies and irregularities,” Trump said, urging the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity to its task Wednesday morning. “In some cases having to do with very large numbers of people in certain states.