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Grijalva slams Trump's 'voter fraud' commission as Orwellian

U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva said President Donald Trump's announcement of a "Presidential Commission on Election Integrity" is "straight out of an Orwell novel." Trump, who has repeatedly made unfounded claims that illegal voting played a significant role in the 2016 election, named Vice President Mike Pence and "voter ID" advocate Kris Kobach to the panel.

In January, Trump said on Twitter that he would "be asking for a major investigation into VOTER FRAUD." Trump said the probe would cover those registered to vote in multiple states, "those who are illegal," and registered voters who are deceased.

Thursday, Trump appointed the vice president and the Kansas secretary of state, Kobach, to the commission. Kobach has been a proponent of crackdowns on illegal immigrants such as Arizona's SB 1070, and traveled the country to support controversial voter registration and identification measures that many Democrats have called "voter suppression."

Trump is "attempting to spread his own fake news about election integrity,” said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project.

There has been no credible evidence unearthed to support the claims by Trump and others that "millions" of people illegally cast ballots in last year's election.

Even Trump's own attorneys, in court filings seeking to halt recounts in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — the three states that provided a narrow balloting edge to put him over the top in the Electoral College — said that "all available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake."

The commission, created by an executive order Thursday, is set up to probe "improper voting, fraudulent voter registrations and fraudulent voting." The 15-member body will be "solely advisory" and submit a report to the Republican president.

Grijalva, a Tucson Democrat, said it was ironic that Pence and Kobach each has "a history of endorsing and implementing voter suppression tactics in Indiana and Kansas respectively."

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While governor of Indiana, "Pence directed state police to raid the Indiana Voter Registration Project offices one week prior to the state's voter registration deadline, confiscating more than 45,000 voter registration forms. That was a targeted attack on the mostly African American voters who were stripped of their right to vote," the Southern Arizona congressman said.

Of Kobach, Grijalva said he "helped author Arizona's anti-immigrant SB1070 law has been marred with civil rights lawsuits left and right. During his tenure as Kansas' secretary of state, Kobach has systematically attempted to make voting difficult - and nearly impossible - for individuals by introducing legislation, like the Secure and Fair Elections Act that's sole purpose is to create additional voting requirements for newly-registered voters. He has further disenfranchised Spanish-speaking voters by providing false voter registration deadlines in the Secretary of State's Spanish-language voter guide."

"A 'Presidential Commission on Election Integrity' chaired by two members who are voter suppressors themselves sounds like something straight out of an Orwell novel," Grijalva said in a press release. "We cannot allow our democracy to be undermined by those who think voter intimidation and disenfranchisement are permissible nor those who would rather waste resources chasing after smoke-mirrors instead of increasing voter registration and participation efforts. The truth remains that it is more likely for someone to be struck by lightning than for someone to have committed voter fraud. Voter fraud is a non-issue in our country; its voter intimidation and disenfranchisement that are the actual threats to democracy."

TucsonSentinel.com's original reporting and curation of border and immigration news is generously supported in part by a grant from the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

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Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

U.S. Rep. Raúl Grijalva at a March 2016 rally for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.