Shortly before Virginia’s elections last month, we asked the three Republicans on the statewide ballot — Ed Gillespie, the gubernatorial candidate; Jill Vogel, the lieutenant gubernatorial candidate; and John Adams, the attorney general candidate — if they believed voter fraud was rampant in the state. None gave a straightforward answer; all three mentioned the isolated case of an undergraduate at James Madison University who filed 18 falsified voter registration forms last year, none of which resulted in a fraudulent vote being cast.
The JMU case is the near-exception that proves the rule: Voting officials and scholars in Virginia, as in other states, say election fraud is rare across the United States; even more seldom does it result in falsified votes at the ballot box.
Nonetheless, the robotic responses by the three Virginia Republicans, who all lost by sizable margins, reflected the party’s intellectual corruption in an age of truthlessness. In the party of President Donald Trump, who asserted, without a scintilla of evidence, that he lost the popular vote in the presidential election because up to 5 million people voted fraudulently, veracity has gone out of fashion. Consequently, many GOP candidates, including Gillespie, Adams and Vogel, lack the spine to utter what is plainly true — namely, that there is no evidence whatsoever that voter fraud is prevalent in the United States.
The Republican project is clear. Facing disadvantageous demographic trends — specifically, an increasingly diverse electorate — GOP lawmakers across the country are using the specter of fraudulent voting to justify rules, including tougher state voter ID legislation, tailor-made to deter minority and young voters, who lean Democratic.
That was the project Trump had in mind this past spring when he created the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, the vice chair of which is Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Republican and an ardent trafficker in unsubstantiated voter fraud allegations. A few months ago, he wrote that Sen. Maggie Hassan, a New Hampshire Democrat, owed her victory last year to voting fraud — an assertion for which there is no basis in fact.
Kobach’s commission hasn’t met since September and has no meetings scheduled; it has been busy dealing with lawsuits challenging its own specious mandate, as well as the lack of transparency that was its hallmark from Day One. (It hasn’t helped, either, that in recent months one of the commission’s 12 members has died; a staffer was arrested on child pornography charges; and the General Accountability Office has agreed to a request from Democratic senators to investigate the commission.)
Most recently, one of the commission’s own Democratic members, Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, has sued it, alleging that he has been denied basic information on the panel’s operations. He also said that bipartisan cooperation, mandated by federal law for such presidential commissions, “has been a facade.”
In response, Kobach said the complaint was “baseless and paranoid” — a perfect characterization for his own wackadoodle theories about fraudulent voting.
– The Washington Post