By Sam Levine
December 7, 2017
NASHVILLE — Three members of President Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission raised alarms about allegedly widespread voter fraud and poked at a popular voting reform on Thursday, while speaking before one of the country’s most powerful conservative groups.
Several studies and investigations have shown that voter fraud is not a widespread problem.
But Hans von Spakovsky and J. Christian Adams told members of the American Legislative Exchange Council that voter fraud is actually prevalent in the U.S. and talked about the need to better identify the many non-citizens and other people who they claim are illegally on the voter rolls. A third member of the commission, Christy McCormick, highlighted potential problems with automatic voter registration, an idea that has bipartisan support and that advocates hope can dramatically expand the number of people who do vote.
ALEC, the group that hosted the “voting integrity” panel discussion on Thursday, consists of thousands of state lawmakers. The group helps prepare model legislation, often advancing conservative causes, that the lawmakers can then take back to their states.
ALEC did not advertise the speakers on the panel beforehand. The presence of three members of the presidential commission is likely to raise questions from watchdog groups, who had already expressed concern on Wednesday that ALEC was taking a renewed interest in voting issues. After successfully pushing voter ID measures across the country, the organization had disbanded its public safety and elections task force in 2012 under pressure from civil rights groups. An ALEC spokesman, Bill Meierling, said Wednesday that the organization was not focused on voting again.
Adams, a former Justice Department official who now heads the Public Interest Legal Foundation, told the dozens of state lawmakers in the room that the most pressing issue when it came to voter integrity was no longer voter ID — 34 states now have some such measure in place — but non-citizens’ presence on the voter rolls.
“Voter ID is an important thing, but it’s yesterday’s fight,” Adams said. “Now we have things, probably the most dangerous thing affecting the integrity of our elections ― we hear a lot about foreign influence. Well, I can tell you the greatest foreign influence in our elections are aliens who are getting on the rolls and aliens who are voting.”
Adams, who has sued local jurisdictions over voter roll maintenance, offered a series of recommendations on how to maintain voter rolls. Among other moves, he wants to make sure that electoral officials can see when people opt out of jury duty, establish online voter registration and allow election officials to audit the voter rolls.