A commission created by President Donald Trump to investigate his allegations of voter fraud is coming to New Hampshire a week after its vice chairman angered state leaders by claiming out-of-state voters in November helped elect a Democrat to the U.S. Senate. The vice chairman, Republican Kris Kobach, who also is Kansas’ secretary of state, said last week that newly released data showed more than 6,500 people registered to vote last year using out-of-state driver’s licenses but only 15 percent had acquired New Hampshire licenses. That was proof, he said, that fraud likely led to then-Gov. Maggie Hassan’s victory over Republican incumbent Kelly Ayotte in the Senate race. But state law allows someone — like a college student or military personnel on active duty — to be domiciled in New Hampshire for voting purposes and be a resident of another state for driver’s licensing purposes. Kobach’s comments prompted all four members of New Hampshire’s congressional delegation to demand the state’s representative on the commission, Secretary of State Bill Gardner, step down. Gardner, a Democrat, said he could not condone Kobach’s claims but would remain on the commission because he wants to understand why Americans are losing trust in the election process.
On Monday, the New Hampshire chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP said they planned to call for the commission’s dismantling. Hassan and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a fellow Democrat, are co-sponsors of a bill that would end the commission, whose Tuesday meeting will its second and its first outside Washington, D.C.
“The commission’s long game is to set the table to restrict voting rights in New Hampshire and across the country,” said Shaheen’s communications director, Ryan Nickel.
Nickel said it’s clear the commission “has a pre-ordained outcome and should be disbanded.”
The commission, the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, has spurred controversy from the moment it was established in May. Critics say Trump, a Republican, is using the commission to support his unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud that cost him the popular vote during the 2016 election, in which Hillary Clinton, a Democrat, received 2.8 million more votes than he did.