President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday creating a commission to examine voter fraud and voter suppression, after repeatedly claiming, without evidence, that fraudulent voting constitutes a major and ongoing problem in the United States.
“The commission will review policies and practices that enhance or undermine the American people’s confidence in the integrity of federal elections — including improper registrations, improper voting, fraudulent registrations, fraudulent voting and voting suppression,” a White House official told reporters Thursday before the order was signed.
Deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters at the daily press briefing that Trump had signed the order.
Vice President Mike Pence will serve as the commission’s chairman, and controversial Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach will serve as its vice chairman. Kobach, a prominent GOP figure known for his tough stance on immigration, met with Trump at his Bedminster resort in New Jersey last November during the presidential transition period and was at one point believed to be a possible pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security.
In addition to his controversial positions on immigration, Kobach has also defended Trump’s claims of rigged elections. In Kansas, he has sought to impose some of the nation’s toughest voter ID laws, some of which have been struck down by judges who said the rules were unfair to minority voters.
During last year’s presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly claimed that the election would be rigged against him, and he declined to commit to accepting the election results, instead insisting on reserving judgment until after votes were cast and the results released. Weeks after he won the election, Trump wrote on Twitter that “in addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally,” an allegation for which he offered no proof.
And days after he was sworn in as president in January, Trump reiterated his claim to a group of congressional leaders from both parties, telling them during a White House meeting that he had lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton only because of illegally cast votes. White House officials have sought to defend the president’s claim but have struggled to offer a clear defense of it.
The commission allows Trump to make good on a promise he made via Twitter shortly after his inauguration to seek “a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and even, those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time). Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures!”