The Trump administration announced the creation of a new commission Thursday that is tasked with studying the scope of voter fraud and voter suppression in the United States, a move that a former Justice Department attorney says is long overdue after eight years of voter fraud that resembled the “wild west” during the Obama years.
The commission will be led by Vice President Mike Pence and co-chaired by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a strong supporter of clamping down on voter fraud through measures like mandating all voters produce photo identification before casting a ballot.
Public Interest Legal Foundation President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams worked in the civil rights division of the Justice Department during the George W. Bush administration and the beginning of Obama’s first term. He says this focus is long overdue.
“We know of election crimes that have gone on in the last seven years, one after another after another, that the federal government never prosecuted and never investigated, never did anything about and creating this wild west atmosphere with voter fraudsters,” said Adams.
For examples, Adams cites Wendy Rosen, the 2012 congressional candidate in Maryland, who also voted in Florida. He says there have been over 1,000 non-citizens discovered voting in Virginia since 2011 and more than 800 others in Ohio. He says North Carolina found 41 ballots cast by non-citizens last year and Nevada found three.
Not only is the fraud not being investigated, in some cases it is celebrated.
“You have Melowese Richardson, a woman in Cincinnati, who said on camera that she voted six times for President Obama. She was actually celebrated at an event that Al Sharpton was at. They treated her like a hero,” said Adams.
The new commission is not without it’s critics however. A group called the Citizen’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law immediately issued a statement referring to the commission’s work as “blocking the black vote.”
While the argument that voting reforms disenfranchise minorities and the poor is rather common, Adams says it is baseless.
“That narrative is a lie. More often than not, the people losing the right to vote because of election crimes are people in minority communities,” said Adams, who says his work at the Justice Department bears out his position.
“When I was at the Justice Department, I brought a case that was afflicting the minority community in a small town in Mississippi where political operatives exploited the weak and the vulnerable. They voted for them. They stole their votes. So often it is the minority communities who are being harmed by voter fraud,” said Adams.
But he didn’t stop there.
“The dirty little secret is these groups that send out these press releases like it that way, because they benefit from controlling the process. They benefit by telling people how to vote, by voting for them, by running an organization that covers up crimes, just to get certain people elected,” said Adams.
That’s why Adams suspects criticism of the commission’s work will not focus on the facts.
“The critics of the commission are essentially want to hide the facts. They don’t want us to know the truth about the extent of voter fraud. They’re accessories to the crime. If they want to cover up and obstruct the investigation into voter fraud, then those people deserve our criticism,” said Adams.
A more bipartisan criticism of the effort suggests that while voter fraud ought to be prosecuted, the problem is being blown out of proportion, After all, three votes usually don’t decide statewide elections in Nevada, 141 didn’t tilt any big races in North Carolina and even 1,000 votes would be unlikely to change results in Virginia.
Adams quickly offered two responses to that argument, starting with the crime itself.
“Changing the outcome of the election is not an element to the federal crime. That is not in the law. That is something people have invented to give people a pass and to shut down enforcement of the law,” said Adams.
But he also says voter fraud certainly can alter the outcome of elections.
“The fact that it effects elections is real. We have found at the Public Interest Legal Foundation that over 4,000 aliens have been caught on the voter rolls, many of them voting, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. These are the ones who have self-reported essentially. So there’s tens of thousands more most likely,” said Adams.
Adams has long favored requiring voters to display photo identification at the polls and for state and local officials to regularly update voter rolls to clean out names of people who are dead or no longer live there.
He says another effective step would take very little effort.
“The easiest thing to do is to compare the voter rolls of the country to the list of aliens in federal databases. Nobody has ever done that. It’s a simple operation. It would not take very much to simply see how many people in the alien database are also registered to vote, and those who have voted should be prosecuted,” said Adams.
“It doesn’t take many prosecutions to chill criminal activity,” he added.
However, for Adams, the most important aspect of the commission may be to punch a hole in the movement of those trying to stop voting reforms.
“Those loud voices on the left have done all they can over the years to silence any examination of the vulnerabilities in our system. They have intimidated and yelled and done everything they could to hide the facts of election crimes. What they’re most upset about it that that’s ending. So I’m optimistic this is going to be a good process,” said Adams.