PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The now-disbanded voting integrity commission launched by the Trump administration to investigate the 2016 presidential election uncovered no evidence to support the president’s claims of widespread voter fraud, according to an analysis of administration documents released.
In a letter to Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who are both Republicans and led the commission, Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said the documents show there was a “pre-ordained outcome” and that drafts of a commission report included a section on evidence of voter fraud that was “glaringly empty.”
“It’s calling into the darkness, looking for voter fraud,” Dunlap, a Democrat, told The Associated Press. “There’s no real evidence of it anywhere.”
Republican President Donald Trump convened the commission to investigate the 2016 presidential election after making unsubstantiated claims that between 3 million and 5 million ballots were illegally cast. Critics, including Dunlap, reject his claims of widespread voter fraud.
The Trump administration last month complied with a court order to turn over documents from the voting integrity commission to Dunlap. The commission met just twice and has not issued a report.
Dunlap’s findings received immediate pushback Friday from Kobach, who acted as vice chair of the commission while Pence served as chair.
“For some people, no matter how many cases of voter fraud you show them, there will never be enough for them to admit that there’s a problem,” said Kobach, who is running for Kansas governor and has a good chance of unseating the incumbent, Jeff Colyer, in the Republican primary Tuesday.
“It appears that Secretary Dunlap is willfully blind to the voter fraud in front of his nose,” Kobach said in a statement released by his spokesman.
Kobach said there have been more than 1,000 convictions for voter fraud since 2000, and that the commission presented 8,400 instances of double voting in the 2016 election in 20 states.
“Had the commission done the same analysis of all 50 states, the number would have been exponentially higher,” Kobach said.
In response, Dunlap said those figures were never brought before the commission, and that Kobach hasn’t presented any evidence for his claims of double voting. He said the commission was presented with a report claiming over 1,000 convictions for various forms of voter misconduct since 1948.
“The plural of anecdote is not data,” Dunlap said in his Friday letter to the shuttered commission’s leaders.
Pence’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.
Dunlap said he is unsure whether the administration has released all relevant documents, and said the matter is in litigation. He said he was repeatedly rebuffed when he sought access to commission records including meeting materials, witness invitations and correspondence.
Dunlap released his findings on a website .
Emails released by Dunlap and promoted by the nonprofit American Oversight, which represented Dunlap, include examples of Republican voting integrity commissioners emailing each other as they worked on information requests without including Democrats.
“Indeed, a very few commissioners worked to buttress their pre-ordained conclusions shielded from dissent or dialogue from those commissioners not included in the discussions,” Dunlap said in his Friday letter.
In a June 2017 email, commissioner Christy McCormick unsuccessfully tried to suggest that the commission hire a statistician she knew. “When I was at DOJ, we had numerous discussions that made me pretty confident that he is conservative (and Christian, too),” said McCormick, in reference to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The emails also show some commission members had planned to ask for an interstate database used to identify duplicate voter registrations, as well as lists of individuals deemed ineligible for federal jury service due to death, relocation, convictions or lack of citizenship. It wasn’t clear in the emails whether or not such requests ended up being fulfilled, Dunlap said.
In two November 2017 emails, Republican commission member and election lawyer J. Christian Adams emailed all members and said there hadn’t been any prosecutions for double voting or any non-citizen voting in years. “Understanding the extent of un-prosecuted and known election crimes can inform the commission’s recommendations,” Adams said.
Adams also called for U.S. Customs and Immigration Services to obtain metadata from citizenship applications as well as a list of individuals removed from the U.S. due to their unlawful participation in elections.
“Many applicants note they have been registered to vote and are voting,” Adams said.