Jonah Goldberg: “The Voter-Fraud Commission Dies a Partisan Death” (and My Own Thoughts on Thielen’s Laughable Oped)

Jonah Goldberg:

Michael Thielen, the executive director of the Republican National Lawyers Association, is upset that the White House disbanded the “voter-fraud commission.” He writes:

President Trump has shut down his Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity (PACEI), also called the “vote fraud commission.” Some Democrats and their allies in the liberal election administration community are cheering as if they have won a war. In a sense, they did nuke the field of bipartisanship that existed in the election administration field. No voter should be happy about this.

The left opposed the PACEI when it was only a rumor, before any of its members were announced and its mission was declared. A great example is the source of much election news: a formerly center-left, now full-time Trump resister, Professor Rick Hasen of the Election Law Blog.   Before this commission even announced its scope or membership, Hasen not only opposed the PACEI but also strongly opposed any Democrats participating.

This effort went so far as attacking Democratic members of the commission when they were announced and complaining if they did not obstruct the PACEI’s hearings. Hillary Clinton’s longtime election lawyer Marc Elias even disputed that the longest serving secretary of state in the nation, Bill Gardner of New Hampshire, was really a Democrat. Another small example, Hasen blocked my group from his Twitter account for agreeing with a liberal reporter that the PACEI was acting in a bipartisan fashion.

Why is this hatred so strong? Besides that it is the liberal election administration community’s way of participating in the Trump “resist” movement, they feared the PACEI because the last two presidential election commissions have recommended corrective measures that go against the liberal agenda. (My emphasis)

Thielen goes on in this vein for a while. As someone who thinks voter fraud is a real problem, albeit not nearly on the scale some on the right claim, I think it’s regrettable that the issue has become so bogged down in partisanship.


Thielen’s op-ed loses much of its impact and credibility when he doesn’t mention, even in passing, the fact that the commission was created as a backstop to justify President Trump’s claim that a popular-vote victory was stolen from him because 3-5 million illegal voters cast votes for Hillary Clinton — a claim with no evidence behind it.

No doubt many of the partisan motivations Thielen describes played a role in the obstruction of the commission, but failing to provide that context strikes me as a pretty partisan exercise in its own right.


Thielen replied to Goldberg that Trump’s motivations are “not as relevant:”

I commented in a tweetstorm on Thielen’s incorrect statement that I opposed the earlier commissions (I believe I agreed with every recommendation of the Bauer-Ginsberg commission), and the idea that I opposed Pence-Kobach because I was afraid it would create recommendations which would end the voter fraud I love and crave. I opposed it because it was based on a dangerous lie aimed at disenfranchising people and stacked with the country’s worst voter suppressors who lie about the extent of the problem and use it as an excuse to make it harder for eligible voters to cast a free and fair ballot.

I express my hope that there can be true bipartisan progress now with this commission out of the way.


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