President Trump’s “election integrity” commission, a source of roiling controversy since its inception, convened here Tuesday amid fresh discord over an unfounded assertion by its vice chairman that the result of New Hampshire’s Senate election last year “likely” changed because of voter fraud. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) largely defended an article published Friday in which he pointed to statistics showing that more than 6,000 people had voted in a close election here using out-of-state driver’s licenses to prove their identity. He suggested that was evidence of people taking advantage of New Hampshire’s same-day registration and heading to the Granite State to cast fraudulent votes. New Hampshire only requires voters to state their “domicile,” a looser standard than residency, and college students and others routinely vote without state-issued driver’s licenses.
Kobach’s article has been rebuked by election experts and among those who criticized his argument was New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner (D), a fellow commission member and host of Tuesday’s meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. After an organizational gathering in July, the panel is holding several meetings around the country.
Gardner said the distinction between residency and domicile requirements is complicated and is one that his state is working on. But Gardner defended the Senate election result as “real and valid” and said Kobach’s article — which appeared in Breitbart, the publication led by Stephen K. Bannon, the recently ousted White House chief strategist — showed why the commission needs to be more careful about its assertions moving forward.
Gardner noted that Kobach said at the previous meeting there should be no “preordained” or “preconceived” notions about what the group will conclude after studying data and hearing from experts. “That is something that we all need to stay focused on,” Gardner said. “I hope we all learn from this.”