I have written this piece for Slate. It begins:
President Donald Trump on Wednesday called for a “major investigation” into voter fraud. While his tweets announcing the call focus on the possibility of double voting and voter registration fraud, the main claim of fraud Trump has made over the past few months is that 3 million to 5 million illegal voters cast ballots in the election, which is his explanation for Hillary Clinton’s popular vote victory.
The claim that there were millions of illegal voters in this past election is false and unsupported by any credible evidence. The National Association of Secretaries of State, made up of the chief election officers of all 50 states, just issued a statement saying so. (Here is an explanation of Trump’s apparent justification for making the claim.) Trump’s own lawyers told a court in connection with Jill Stein’s request for a Michigan recount that “all available evidence suggests that the 2016 general election was not tainted by fraud or mistake.”
The administration has promised more details about the coming investigation later this week. Considering his continued advocacy for totally discredited voter fraud claims, there is no reason to believe that any investigation Trump orders would be fair and a search for the truth. Here, though, are some markers to determine whether it would be. Assuming Trump is not going to order a fair investigation, there should be a shadow investigation following these markers.
Baseless allegations of voter fraud hurt our democracy. You would think after the Department of Justice under President George W. Bush spent five years investigating voter fraud with nothing to show for it, the voter fraud canard would have been put to bed years ago. This call for a major investigation, if done fairly, could finally put the issue to bed. Let’s not fool ourselves into believing President Trump would order a fair investigation. But if he doesn’t, we will need a shadow investigation to counter whatever a Trump commission might put out to support its boss’ baseless conclusions.