Fellow members of a presidential commission on election integrity pushed back against Republican Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach's argument that out-of-state voters may have swayed the outcome of a Senate election in New Hampshire.
It might seem shocking that chief election official of a state, much less one running a commission on election integrity, would make such an irresponsible claim, but this is far from the first time Kobach has wildly inflated claims of illegal voting.
Anyone who registered to vote on Election Day with another state's drivers' license and didn't get a New Hampshire license within 60 days was an illegitimate voter and, according to Kobach's apparently psychic powers, most likely a Democrat!
Some commission members have suggested people don't vote because they think the system is "rigged", but University of New Hampshire political scientist Andrew Smith said voter surveys by the U.S.Census have reached a different conclusion.
Therefore, Kobach concluded, there were 5,313 New Hampshire voters who can not be proven as residents of the state.
The New Hampshire Supreme Court has upheld this interpretation. In the run-up to the meeting, Kobach wrote an article for the discredited Breitbart website that recycled President Trump's bogus claim about thousands of illegal votes being cast previous year in New Hampshire. On the one hand it sounds as if they might be saying that you can live in New Hampshire but keep an out of state driver's license.
National and state Democrats had pressured Gardner to quit the panel, arguing that his participation serves to legitimize what they see as a sham commission in place only to justify Trump's conspiracy theories.
For starters, New Hampshire does not outlaw using out-of-state IDs for voter registration, and simply requires that registrants can prove any kind of residence in the state.
The all-day hearing raises more questions about the intentions of Kobach and other commissioners, including Hans von Spakovsky of the conservative Heritage Foundation, who has a long history of pushing for voting restrictions. From this alone, he claims there is "proof" they never were "bona fide residents" of New Hampshire and voted illegally.
Kobach's commission has entertained a possible requirement of background checks for voters, similar to those performed on gun buyers. (The Republican changes to the law in Wisconsin may well have skewed the results there in Trump's favor.) But we do know that, in state after state, Republican legislators made it harder for Democrats to vote.
In an interview, Gardner said the serial controversies had unfairly sullied the commission's public image nearly before it had begun work, adding that he had been branded by some as a vote suppressor merely by serving on it.
Mr. Trump, meanwhile, has posited - without firm proof - that some 3 million fraudulent votes were cast for Mrs. Clinton, giving her the popular vote majority.
On Tuesday, Kobach acknowledged that New Hampshire allows college students and others to vote in the state without getting driver's licenses if they consider the state their domicile. We often get complaints that there are college students who are out-of-state students who are voting. Trump established the commission in May after charging, without evidence, that millions voted unlawfully in November's presidential election. He created the election integrity panel in May to study federal election processes across the USA and to report back to him within two years. "New Hampshire people aren't accustomed to walking away or stepping down from their civic duty, and I will not either". It gives them the option of either promising - under penalty of a $5,000 fine and/or a year in jail - to provide proof of residency within 10 days, or to sign off on having elections officials investigate the claim of residency.