WASHINGTON — President Trump’s voter fraud commission met in New Hampshire on Tuesday to discuss what members characterized as declining confidence in elections. But the most telling discussions of the session addressed declining confidence in the commission itself.
As protesters outside the meeting accused the panel of promoting voter suppression, New Hampshire Secretary of State William M. Gardner, a Democrat on the commission, warned that “the specter of extreme political partisanship” threatened to undermine whatever work it was doing. And Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, another Democrat on the commission, dressed down the commission’s Republican vice chairman for what he called reckless statements about supposed voter fraud in New Hampshire.
Even a commission member not in attendance made his critical voice heard. The panel “should be expanding the rights of our citizens to vote, instead of arguably looking for ways to keep people from voting,” wrote Alan L. King, a Democrat and probate judge in Jefferson County, Ala., in a stinging letter.
“Some parts of our electorate wish to beat their chests on so-called ‘voter fraud,’ and there may be some isolated instances” of irregularities, he wrote. “But, I would venture to say, thousands upon thousands more people are stricken from voter rolls without justifiable cause or have their vote suppressed.”
From its start in May, the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity has been dogged by charges that it was established to bolster President Trump’s baseless assertion that fraud cost him a popular-vote victory last November, and to lay the groundwork for future Republican efforts to restrict voting rights. Mr. Trump collected 2.8 million fewer votes than his main rival, Hillary Clinton, but nevertheless won the Electoral College tally.
Critics say the panel is politically stacked — the chairman and vice chairman are both Republicans — and loaded with extremists who contend that election fraud is rampant.
On Tuesday, the Campaign Legal Center, an advocacy group, released an email obtained under the Freedom of Information Act in which a Justice Department employee was urged to push Attorney General Jeff Sessions to create just such a commission.
The email, from an employee at the conservative Heritage Foundation whose name was redacted, was sent to an aide to Mr. Sessions with the instruction “Please give this to JBS.” It expressed alarm at rumors that the panel would include Democrats…