A former Democratic member of the Trump administration’s now-disbanded election integrity commission says newly-released documents show no evidence of widespread voter fraud, and that "dissenting or even questioning voices" on the panel were unwelcome.
Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said in a letter to Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the two Republican leaders of the commission, that assertions of widespread fraud appeared aimed at fulfilling a "pre-ordained objective" of finding evidence to back up earlier unsubstantiated claims by President Trump that millions voted illegally in the 2016 election.
The Maine Democrat, who said he and some other members of the commission were not included in its work, sued in November 2017 to obtain documents from the panel. The administration launched the election integrity commission in May 2017 and disbanded it in January.
Dunlap said that in a draft report by commission staff, "the sections on evidence of voter fraud were glaringly empty," and that now-released documents, prove that no such widespread fraud existed. “While individual cases of improper or fraudulent voting occur infrequently, the instances of which I am aware do not provide any basis to extrapolate widespread or systematic problems.”
Kobach, now a Republican candidate for Kansas governor, shot back in a statement.
“It appears that Secretary Dunlap is willfully blind to the voter fraud in front of his nose,” Kobach said. “The commission was also presented approximately 8,400 instances of double voting in the 2016 election looking only at 20 states.”
Dunlap responded that Kobach is citing figures never brought before the commission, and for which no evidence has been presented, according to The Associated Press.
Kobach’s spokesperson did not immediately respond to follow-up questions from ABC News on the disputed numbers. Vice President Pence’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Dunlap's letter and posts come as controversy surrounding the election commission is reverberating in at least one statewide race this year.
The Democratic challenger in the race for Colorado secretary of state -- Jena Griswold, an attorney for the Obama campaign in 2012 -- has criticized Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams for his willingness to comply with a request last year to hand over Colorado voter data to Trump’s commission.
Many states refused to comply with the panel's request for voter information, with some experts warning that a central, national repository of voter data could be a target for hacking and election interference.
Computer security expert Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technology officer at the Center for Democracy and Technology, for example, told ABC News that the commission had lacked adequate controls for protecting "that quantity of sensitive data."
In the wake of Colorado's agreement to send the voter information to the commission, nearly 3,400 residents of the state cancelled their registrations, according to a Denver Post report in July 2017. County election officials said they had never seen anything like that wave of cancelled registrations.
More: Trump's presidential voter fraud commission was short-lived, rarely met https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/trumps-presidential-voter-fraud-commission-short-lived-rarely/story?id=52139919
In an interview with ABC News, Williams stressed that the records he agreed to hand over are publicly available information that the state routinely shares with the Democratic and Republican parties. The files he agreed to provide include voters’ full name, birth year, party affiliation and voting history, and exclude information like the last four digits of Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers and full birth dates.
Williams said Griswold’s objection to cooperating with the Trump task force is evidence of partisan favoritism.
“The Democratic National Committee was successfully hacked, but I still think they’re entitled to get a copy of the voting list. And I think it would be politically reprehensible for a secretary of state to say, ‘I will not give the list to one of the two major parties because they have demonstrated a failure of security,’” Williams told ABC News. “It’s critical that you have a secretary of state who doesn’t play politics, who doesn’t engage in cronyism where they only give the information to their friends.”
Griswold said her concern is about protecting citizens’ private information.
“This isn’t about politics, and especially not about party politics," she told ABC News. "This is about our Constitution, and our rights as citizens.”
She suggested that Williams seemed enthusiastic about complying with the commission.
“We are very glad they are asking for information,” Williams said in a statement at the time. “I wish more federal agencies would ask folks for their opinion and for information before they made decisions.”