Statement from CBC Chairman & Top Judiciary Democrat on White House Voter Fraud Investigation

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Washington, May 11, 2017 | comments

Today, the Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), Congressman Cedric Richmond (D-La.), and the Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), released the following statement on President Trump’s creation of the Presidential Commission on Election Integrity to investigate voter fraud. Vice President Mike Pence will be the chair of the commission and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach will be the vice chair.  

“President Trump says this commission is an effort to protect voting rights but it is really an effort to suppress and intimidate African-American and other minority voters. Instead of supporting an investigation into fake issues like voter fraud that pose no threat to the country, the Trump Administration should support an investigation into real issues that do – real issues like Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, campaign collusion and cover-up, and voter suppression and intimidation.

“This announcement and the timing of it is no accident; President Trump is, once again, trying to distract us from these real issues. But, as the CBC urged last week, Americans must ‘stay woke’ during this time of fake news and alternative facts. This commission is a waste of taxpayer dollars and government time and will only do what President Trump wants it to do: encourage and empower public officials like Attorney General Sessions and Kansas Secretary of State Kobach who have a history of allowing voter suppression and intimidation.”  

Most cases of so-called voter fraud are the result of clerical and other errors made by lawful voters and election officials. In a 2014 investigation, led by Justin Levitt of Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, researchers found 31 instances of voter fraud out of more than one billion votes cast between 2000 and 2014. That is the equivalent to one instance of voter fraud out of every 32 million votes cast.

On January 25, 2017, in a letter to President Trump, Conyers and Richmond urged that if an investigation was going to be completed in regard to President Trump’s voter fraud allegations, that it be completed by a non-partisan independent body and that it also focus on voter suppression in the wake of the 2013 Supreme Court Shelby v. Holder decision.

Full text of the letter is available here and below.

Donald J. Trump

President of the United States

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Washington, D.C.

 

Dear Mr. President:

We are writing to express our deep concerns with regards to your unsubstantiated claims that widespread voter fraud cost you the popular vote in the recent election.  On Monday, at your first meeting with Congressional leaders you stated “3-5 million” unauthorized immigrants had robbed you of a popular vote majority.  Further, you tweeted today that,

“I will be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD, including those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal and even, those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time).  Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures!” 

These statements come on top of unsubstantiated claims that you made both as a candidate that the election was “rigged” and after the election that you

“…won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”

As President, you bear a responsibility to uphold the principles of our democracy.  The recklessness with which you’ve chosen to spread this misinformation will erode faith in our elections and needlessly destabilize the most important democracy in the world.

The only documented sources you have cited in these repeated misstatements are a 2014 Old Dominion study concerning registration by non-citizens and a 2012 Pew Research study concerning out of date and inaccurate voter registrations.  However, neither of these studies have been shown in any way to support your conclusions.  The 2014 study has been thoroughly debunked due to concerns about small sample size, confusing questions, and errors in self-reporting.  The 2012 Pew Study did not even concern voter fraud and the primary author confirmed that the report found no evidence that voter fraud resulted.”

Numerous members of your own party have disagreed with your statements, including Speaker Ryan who said that that “I have no knowledge of such things [widespread voter fraud],”and just yesterday stated, “I’ve seen no evidence to that effect. I’ve made that very, very clear.” And in a legal filing in Michigan on your behalf stated that “All available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake.”

The watch-dog group ProPublica, with more than 1,000 individuals watching on Election Day found no evidence of widespread vote fraud in the 2016 election.  “We have data that show that [Trump’s assertions about voter fraud is] simply not true.  If anything happened on the scale he’s implying, we would’ve seen it.”   A recent Washington Post review of allegations found there have been just four documented cases of voter fraud in the 2016 election. It is also important to note that a five year investigation the Department of Justice under President George W. Bush found there was no evidence of organized voter fraud in U.S. elections.

At the same time, there is real and tangible evidence that efforts to combat mythical and unproven voter fraud have actually had the result of targeting and suppressing minority voting rights.  For example, in NAACP v. McCrory, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals found there is almost no evidence of voter fraud in recent elections, but that the North Carolina voter ID bill represented “one of the largest restrictions on the [voter] franchise in modern North Carolina History.”  A recent academic study by professors at University of California San Diego and Bucknell also found that strict voter ID laws “have a differentially negative impact on the turnout of Hispanics, Blacks, Asian Americans and multi-racial Americans.”

If you insist on conducting an investigation of these issues, we would request that it be performed by an independent and non-partisan body, and that it be fully transparent.  We would also request that the investigation not only consider your claims of voter fraud, but review the ongoing problem of voter suppression and examine the impact of the weakening of the Voting Rights Act following the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder in 2013. 

Given that your allegations strike at the heart of the legitimacy of your administration, we would expect that  you would agree to follow the independent investigation where it may lead, including vigorously enforcing existing voter protections and working with us to enact laws necessary to protect our citizens’ right to vote.

We look forward to your consideration of these matters.

Sincerely,

 

John Conyers, Jr.

Ranking Member

House Committee on the Judiciary

 

Cedric Richmond

Chairman

Congressional Black Caucus

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