1. Opinion

Ruth: Election commission investigates nothing

Published Jul. 19, 2017

Perhaps when President Donald Trump's dubiously titled Commission on Election Integrity wraps up its vital work ferreting out nonexistent voter fraud, it can turn its attention to other jobs, like tracking down who killed Cock Robin, the truth behind the moon landing hoax and the faux horror of the elusive "Bowling Green Massacre."

Somehow Trump convinced himself that millions of illegal immigrants voted in the 2016 elections, a claim that has been debunked countless times. This is probably the inevitable result when the president of the United States spends too much time communing with his imaginary friend, Mr. Jingle Pants.

And so, fresh off his also disproved notion that hundreds of Muslims danced in the streets of New Jersey after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Trump created the Commission on Election Integrity to drill down on something else that never happened.

The country faces serious infrastructure needs. Climate change threatens to turn the president's beloved Mar-a-Lago resort into a swamp. And Trump's son, Don Jr., can't seem to remember how many Russians were in a room with him — Yakov Smirnoff, the Bolshoi Ballet, Boris and Natasha? Who knows?

But the work of this commission presses on, holding its first high-level meeting Wednesday to get to the bottom of a dry hole. Next up — a presidential panel to explore just how is it that Wile E. Coyote has the financial wherewithal to buy all those Acme gizmos in his pursuit of the Roadrunner? An anxious nation eagerly awaits the answers.

Ever since Trump insisted he would have easily won the popular vote had not the entire population of Mexico City managed to vote for Hillary Clinton, he has been obsessed with the myth of election fraud. You might say this is the mother of all fake news stories.

It has mattered little that people who actually know about this stuff, like the country's supervisors of elections, Democrats and Republicans alike, say voter fraud is exceedingly rare. The Brennan Center for Justice estimates voter fraud incident rates range between 0.0003 percent and 0.0025 percent. And a 2014 Washington Post investigation into voter fraud could only uncover 31 credible instances of election hanky-panky between 2000 and 2014 out of more than 1 billion ballots cast.

Yet Trump has persisted. Lyndon LaRouche isn't this delusional.

To be fair, the commission co-chaired by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach could carve out a mission by investigating voter suppression efforts by states such as Florida that have attempted to make it more difficult to register to vote, reduced early voting days and prevented felons who have served their time from regaining their right to vote.

That will probably happen after the commission finishes up its sleuthing into all the Area 51 Martians who voted in the last election, the Clinton pedophile ring being run out of a Washington pizza parlor and Queen Elizabeth's role as an international drug lord.

The election commission got off to a creepy "Your papers, please" start when it asked all 50 states to submit a range of information about voters, including names, addresses, party affiliation, electoral participation history and the last four digits of their Social Security numbers.

And at least 44 states — including Kobach's own secretary of state office — responded by telling the commission it could take its demands for voter information and, well, as one Republican secretary of state said, go "jump in the Gulf of Mexico."

It is a legitimate concern for state elections officials that an administration that has demonstrated a certain affinity for alt-right nationalist tendencies, not to mention a degree of admiration for various despots around the world, might use the commission to further suppress voting rights by cooking up phony claims of election fraud.

Rest assured, by the time the Commission on Election Integrity (stop laughing!) concludes its task, you're going to think our elections were more rigged than a North Korean city council race. But with a president estimated by the Washington Post to have told 492 false claims in his first 100 days in office, whom are you going to believe?

The whopper in chief and his factotums? Or everyone else?