CONCORD — President Trump signed today an executive order establishing a “Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.”  One of the Commission’s members will be New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner.  The Commission’s Vice Chair reportedly will also be Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, whom the ACLU has successfully sued numerous times over his voter suppression policies.[1]

Devon Chaffee, the Executive Director of the ACLU of New Hampshire, said:

As President Trump’s own lawyers have stated, “All available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake.”[2] Signing this piece of paper will not make Mr. Trump’s false statements about voter fraud true.  Indeed, officials from across the political spectrum—including NH Republicans Governor Chris Sununu[3], Steve Duprey[4], and Tom Rath[5]—have correctly rejected claims of widespread voter fraud in this state. 

This commission, to be co-led by the king of voter suppression Kris Kobach, seems to be a sham.  Any commission led by Mr. Kobach likely will be a pretext to enact new restrictions on the right to vote.  We hope we are proven wrong.

We are disappointed in the decision of New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner to participate in and lend his credibility to what appears to be a kangaroo commission.  That said, Secretary Gardner has made clear—as recently as the February 14, 2017 edition of the Concord Monitor[6]—that he has found no proof supporting President Trump’s baseless allegation that thousands of Massachusetts residents were bused to New Hampshire to cast ballots against him.  Secretary Gardner’s office also has repeatedly said—correctly—that there is no widespread voter fraud here.[7]  Our expectation is that, while on this Commission, Secretary Gardner will only join conclusions in the Commission’s final report that support voting rights and are based on actual proven facts—not unsupported speculation.

[1] See, e.g.Fish v. Kobach, 840 F.3d 710, 755 (10th Cir. 2016).  For example, in this decision, Mr. Kobach was rebuked by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, in a unanimous opinion by George W. Bush-appointee Jerome Holmes, for the “mass denial of a fundamental constitutional right,” because he disenfranchised 18,000 motor-voter applicants in Kansas, under a “show-me-your-papers” law that requires people to show a birth certificate or passport when registering to vote.  The Court also found that Mr. Kobach’s assertions about widespread non-citizen voting were “pure speculation.”  Moreover, Mr. Kobach was photographed carrying documents proposing to amend the motor-voter law.   He tried to shield those plans from public scrutiny, but a federal court, after finding that Mr. Kobach had engaged in “word-play meant to present a materially inaccurate picture of the documents,” ordered him to turn them over.  The ACLU expects to receive them tomorrow.

[3] Governor Chris Sununu: “As I've said in the past, I'm not aware of any widespread voter fraud in New Hampshire … I do not believe we have widespread voter fraud here in New Hampshire.”

[4] Steve Duprey, NH Republican National Committeeman: “I have no idea what he [Mr. Trump] is talking about.  If they are talking about stuffing ballots here or missing ballots there, well that doesn’t happen in New Hampshire, and there has been no suspicion that it happened this time.”

[5] Tom Rath, NH former Attorney General: “Let me be as unequivocal as possible — allegations of voter fraud in NH are baseless, without any merit — it’s a shame to spread these fantasies.”

[6] Secretary of State William Gardner: “Everyone has ways to take pictures and there is nothing.  We have nothing. Show me something.”

[7] Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan: “There’s no indication of anything that widespread taking place in New Hampshire.”