Editorial: Commission on Election Integrity is a waste of time and money ... and dangerous.

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It was apparently not enough for President Donald J. Trump's ego to be elected president of the United States via the electoral college. No, Trump being Trump had to win the popular vote as well.

So when the final tally showed Democrat Hillary Clinton receiving 2,904,974 more votes, a 2.1 percent margin, Trump declared it unacceptable.

"In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally," he tweeted in November.

We leave it to those who analyze the workings of the human mind to explain what nature of psychosis leads a man to invent his own reality to enhance his image. However, as to the facts, there is no evidence of massive voter fraud.

When factcheck.org looked into the matter, they reported this:

"Voting experts we talked to pointed to numerous studies that have found such in-person voter fraud — the type of fraud Trump is alleging — is virtually nonexistent. A Government Accountability Office report released in October 2014 said that 'no apparent cases of in-person voter impersonation (were) charged by DOJ's Criminal Division or by U.S. Attorney's offices anywhere in the United States from 2004 through July 3, 2014.'"

The bipartisan National Association of Secretaries of State released a statement in January saying that its members are "not aware of any evidence that supports the voter fraud claims made by President Trump."

In the Hans Christian Andersen tale, "The Emperor's New Clothes," the fact that the emperor instead has no clothes is recognized by the "whole town" when a child states the obvious. If the emperor were Trump, he would have formed a commission to prove he had clothes.

Which is what the president did.

By way of an executive order, Trump created the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which has set out to make the case for Trump's losing the popular vote because of fraud.

It is bad enough that this is a waste of time and money, but it is also potentially dangerous.

The commission is demanding voter information from secretaries of the state across the country, apparently to gather into a massive data base. As former U.S. homeland security secretary Michael Chertoff, who served under President George W. Bush, has noted, that is the worst thing the country can do given recent findings that Russia meddle in our presidential election.

Chertoff noted that the "widespread distribution of data elements in multiple separate (state) repositories is one way to reduce vulnerability."

Let the federal government aggregate it and you're inviting hacking.

Then there is the likelihood the administration would use the information not to improve voting, but to suppress it.

The vice chairman of the commission on election integrity is Kris Kobach, who has served as Kansas secretary of state since 2011. The American Civil Liberties Union labels him "the king of voter suppression."

The ACLU contends tens of thousands of eligible Kansans have been prevented from registering to vote by the 2011 law Kobach championed, requiring not only normal identification but documentary proof of citizenship.

Under his direction, Kansas has also employed the use of Crosscheck, intended to detect people registered to vote in more than one state. An analysis of Crosscheck found that it flags thousands of people allegedly registered in multiple states when, in fact, they are simply people who have the same name and birth date.

Can you imagine Crosscheck taken to a national level, confusing all those Smiths and Riveras?

Given this needless and potentially harmful investigation, how should secretaries of the states respond to its request that they turn over voter names, dates of birth, voting histories, party registrations, the last four digits of Social Security numbers, felony convictions and military status?

They should provide only the information that is public under their respective Freedom of Information laws and held by their offices. In Connecticut, that certainly would not include Social Security numbers. And the Office of the Secretary of State does not maintain court or military records.

This fishing expedition initiated by Trump is an attack on states' rights and the long tradition of state and local governments administering elections.

So while open government laws must be respected even for foolishly motivated requests, secretaries of the state, including Connecticut's Denise W. Merrill, should not go beyond their legal obligation in response.

Better yet, Republicans should raise their voices in urging Trump to pull the plug on it.



— The Day. New London, Conn.


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