During the meeting, even Kobach faced the wide chasm between his own claims of widespread voter-fraud and the evidence. On September 7, Kobach—who has launched hundreds of investigations of voter fraud in his own state and walked away with fewer than a dozen convictions—claimed in a column he wrote for Breitbart (where he is a paid contributor) that “facts have come to light that indicate that a pivotal, close election was likely changed through voter fraud on November 8, 2016: New Hampshire’s U.S. Senate Seat, and perhaps also New Hampshire’s four electoral college votes in the presidential election.” To Kobach, the source of that fraud was mostly thousands of out-of-staters who didn’t have updated driver’s licenses, and thus “never were bona fide residents of the State.”
But, on Tuesday, when confronted with data directly challenging his claim—specifically, New Hampshire only requires voters to be domiciled, not residents, which means that out-of-staters can vote legitimately—Kobach changed his claim, instead criticizing the New Hampshire law, even as New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner—who is also a commissioner—called Kobach’s column “reckless.” Still, much of the meeting and its segment on voter fraud focused on New Hampshire’s voting laws, a focus brought on in part by Kobach’s own disupted column.
That episode reflects the nature of Trump’s voter-fraud commission and the modus operandi of many politicians who claim voter fraud is rampant: They make false, unverified, or disputed claims of fraudulent voting, then use those claims as evidence that anti-voter-fraud efforts are necessary, and when claims are debunked, cite that as a demonstration of the need to pursue the subject more thoroughly. No matter how comprehensive the data, both analyses that purport to document the presence of voter fraud and those that are taken as signals of the need to dig deeper and pass further legislation.
That logic undercuts what could be an invaluable effort at improving turnout, modernizing registrations and voter rolls, improving elections technology, increasing cross-state communication, reducing administrative problems, and pursuing discrepancies and instances of illegal elections actions that are prevalent and well known. Those actions are included in the charges of Kobach’s commission, though it might not have been evident in the way they were squeezed into the last panel discussion of the day, nor in the overwhelming focus of the public comments on fraud and suppression.
*This article originally stated that Block's firm matched partial Social Security numbers instead of full ones. We regret the error.
** This article has been updated to clarify the source of proprietary data.