The White House is expected to announce the creation of a presidential commission on Thursday to investigate voter fraud, a Trump administration official tells NPR.
Vice President Mike Pence will lead the commission and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Republican, will be the vice chair. According to the Associated Press, the commission’s members will include Democrats and Republicans.
Shortly after taking office, President Trump claimed, without offering evidence, that three to five million people voted illegally in 2016 and that he would create a commission led by Pence to investigate.
The commission is expected also to be charged with looking into other irregularities and problems in the voting process, including duplicate and outdated voter registrations. Membership of the commission has not been finalized, but is expected to include some secretaries of state, who generally oversee elections at the state level. It will be tasked with reporting its findings sometime next year.
Kobach’s appointment to the co-chair the commission will certainly be controversial. He has long claimed that there’s widespread illegal voting by non-citizens in the U.S., despite the lack of evidence. He has prosecuted only a handful of voting fraud cases in his state.
Kobach has headed a campaign to require that voters show proof of citizenship when registering, something voting rights groups have fought in court, claiming that it’s discriminatory and unnecessary.
Voting rights activists are concerned that the commission will be used to justify more state legislation to impose restrictions on voting, such as strict identification requirements.
Many state election officials worry the commission will divert attention from some of their more serious concerns, such as aging equipment and the threat of hacking. U.S. intelligence officials have said they fully expect that Russians will attempt to hack future U.S. elections, after their attempts to influence last year’s vote.
Trump began making his allegations of widespread voter fraud shortly after the election, claiming that he would have won the popular vote — which he lost by nearly three million votes — if there had not been so many votes cast illegally.
Numerous independent investigations have concluded that voter fraud exists, but is extremely limited in scope.
NPR’s Tamara Keith contributed reporting to this story.