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Other View: Voter fraud commission can't find Bigfoot, either

Poor Kris Kobach. Every time he gets information purporting to show the widespread voter fraud he's looking for as vice chairman of President Donald Trump's Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, it turns out to be bogus. It's almost as if widespread voter fraud is a myth.

Which, of course, it is. Expecting to lose last November's election, Trump ginned up outrage over a "rigged" system. When he won the electoral vote but lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes, he claimed he would have won that, too, "if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally."

It's as if Trump thinks Bigfoot is real and appointed Vice President Mike Pence and Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, as co-chairs of the new commission and told them to go find evidence. At the commission's first meeting in July, Trump said, "There's something. There always is."

At that first meeting, Kobach cited a report from the Heritage Foundation that claimed to have found 1,070 instances of voter fraud. In fact, as the Brennan Center for Justice reports, it did no such thing. Its very failure proves the absurdity of its claim. Heritage lists all sorts of voting irregularities, stretching back decades, including voter intimidation and charges of wrongdoing by election officials. After reviewing years of elections in which billions of ballots were cast, the Heritage report found only 10 instances of in-person voter impersonation. To address this non-issue, Republican state legislatures have passed dozens of photo ID requirements potentially disenfranchising millions of voters.

Kobach's commission has entertained a possible requirement of background checks for voters, similar to those performed on gun buyers.

As Kobach prepared for the commission's second meeting last week, he was presented with another bogus voter fraud study, this one from New Hampshire. Kobach wrote about it in a recent (paid) column for the alt-right website Kobach wrote: "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." Kobach's allies in New Hampshire relayed information that some 5,300 people who voted in that election weren't residents of the state. The proof was that they registered to vote using out-of-state IDs. New Hampshire allows same-day voting for people (students, for example) who live in New Hampshire but don't have state IDs. Most of the 5,300 questioned votes came from college towns. Not one proven case exists of nonresidents voting in that election.

There are legitimate questions about the November election's integrity. The Russians interfered with it, buying Facebook ads, unloading information helpful to Trump and perhaps hacking a voting machine company. If Kobach were serious, that's where he'd devote his attention.

— St. Louis Post-Dispatch