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Cummings Issues Statement on President’s Misguided Executive Order on Voter Fraud

May 12, 2017
Press Release

Cummings Issues Statement on President’s Misguided Executive Order on Voter Fraud

 

Washington, D.C. (May 11, 2017)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, issued the following statement on President Donald Trump’s executive order to “investigate” the voter fraud myth:

“Today, President Trump is resuscitating his voter fraud investigation in a desperate attempt to retroactively prove his completely baseless claim that up to five million unauthorized immigrants cast illegal votes in the 2016 election—a claim that even his Republican colleagues admit is patently false.  This appears to be a weak and transparent effort to distract from the President’s firing of FBI Director Comey just as he was accelerating his investigation into the President’s campaign and its ties to Russia, as well as the storm of controversy that is now enveloping the White House as a result.”

“However, the President is taking taxpayer dollars away from critical law enforcement functions that Americans rely on every single day and is squandering them on this partisan effort to lay the groundwork to justify new restrictions on the right of American citizens to cast legitimate votes.  The President should rename his panel ‘The Commission on Suppressing the Vote and Disenfranchising American Citizens.’  Our nation’s leaders should be expanding the ability of eligible voters to participate in our democracy—not degrading it.”

On January 23, 2017, President Trump used his first meeting with congressional leaders to “falsely claim that millions of unauthorized immigrants had robbed him of a popular vote majority, a return to his obsession with the election’s results.”  He also asserted that “between three million and five million unauthorized immigrants voted for Mrs. Clinton.”

These claims followed a tweet by the President on November 27, 2017, claiming with no evidence:  “I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”  In fact, Secretary Clinton won the popular vote by more than 2 million votes.

The Washington Post Fact Checker gave the President’s claim its worst rating—Four Pinocchios—and called his assertion “bogus.”  Similarly, FactCheck.org concluded:  “Trump still has offered no evidence to support his contention that ‘millions’ voted illegally.”

Even Republican leaders agree that the President’s claims are false.  For example:

  •          Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) said:  “I’ve seen no evidence to that effect.  I’ve made that very, very clear,” when asked about the President’s claims.
  •          Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said:  “Look, there’s no evidence of that and I think that those who allege that have to come up with some substantiation of the claim.”
  •          Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) said:  “I haven’t seen evidence of that.”
  •          House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) said:  “On the voter fraud issue, that really happens at the county level.  I don’t see any evidence.”

Similarly, a 2007 Brennan Center report found that voter fraud incident rates were only between 0.0003% and 0.0025%.  In 2014, the Washington Post investigated voter fraud and found 31 credible instances from 2000 to 2014 out of more than 1 billion votes cast.  The Department of Justice examined votes cast between 2002 and 2005, finding that just 0.00000013% of the votes cast resulted in voter fraud convictions or guilty pleas.

While there is bipartisan agreement that widespread voter fraud is a myth, statehouses nationwide have used this myth to pass more restrictive voting requirements. 

Fourteen states had restrictive new voting laws in place for the first time in a presidential election last year.  This included New Hampshire, where the Republican legislature overrode the Democratic Governor’s veto, and Virginia, where a Republican Lieutenant Governor broke a tie in the evenly-divided Senate.  These include cuts to early voting, restrictions on registration, and ID and citizenship requirements that unduly burden young voters, women, the elderly, people with disabilities, low-income voters, and the homeless.

In a decision last July about a series of new voter suppression laws in North Carolina, a 4th Circuit panel found that “the new provisions target African Americans with almost surgical precision” and “impose cures for problems that did not exist.”

It was reported that in 2014, a federal court found that more than 600,000 registered voters in Texas at the time did not have the voter IDs that the state newly required to vote. 

In another ruling in Wisconsin in 2014, a federal court found that more than 300,000 registered voters in the state did not have the strict form of ID required to vote.  

Meanwhile, Republican leadership in Congress fail to update the voting rights formula and restore the full protection of the Voting Rights Act, even though Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle introduced legislation to do so. 

For example, Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL) introduced the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015, which did not see movement despite a discharge petition filed last summer with 181 signatures, and Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) introduced the Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2015, which also saw no movement out of committee even after he wrote a scathing critique in the New York Times of his own party’s failure to address voting rights.

Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach will be the Chair and Vice Chair of the Presidential Commission on Voter Integrity.  

Last June, Cummings joined Rep. Robert Brady (D-PA) and Assistant Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn (D-SC) to launch an investigation into the unilateral approval by one of Kobach’s former employees of his request to begin requiring proof of citizenship on federal voter registration forms in Kansas.  A federal judge blocked the action in September after finding that it could disenfranchise legitimate voters.

115th Congress