WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s voter integrity commission is meeting for the first time Wednesday amid outrage over its request for extensive personal voter information and questions over why the White House appears more concerned with voter fraud than Russian election meddling.
The meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity in Washington comes amid lawsuits and as investigations into potential collusion between Trump campaign aides and Moscow continue to intensify.
The commission got off to a rocky start when numerous states rebuffed its request for detailed voter data, including voter names, voting histories and party affiliations. Aides to Vice President Mike Pence, the commission’s chair, have stressed the commission requested only information that was already public. Critics argued that complying would legitimize the effort, which many see as part of a conservative campaign to strip minority voters and poor people from the voter rolls. The request has also sparked numerous lawsuits.
Trump convened the commission after alleging that voter fraud cost him the 2016 popular vote, despite past studies showing voter fraud is exceedingly rare.
“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, several weeks after his electoral victory.
Officials have said there was no evidence of extensive voter fraud during the election.
The commission will also examine ways to protect voting systems from foreign interference. U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that the Russian government mounted a campaign to help elect Trump, hacking the Democratic National Committee and a Hillary Clinton campaign aide’s emails and spreading propaganda through fake news stories and social media bots.
But Trump has repeatedly undermined their findings and voicing skepticism about Russia’s role.
Wednesday’s meeting is expected to be largely organizational, with the discussion focusing on how the commission will proceed moving forward.
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