President Donald Trump followed through on a pledge to set up a federal panel to "promote fair and honest Federal elections," as backers praised his efforts to rein in voter fraud, while Democratic Party critics said it was nothing more than an effort at voter suppression.
Here's what the plan would do:
1. Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. With Vice President Mike Pence in charge, the order by President Trump sets up a panel of no more than 16 people, to "study the registration and voting processes used in Federal elections." The executive order instructs the group to look at processes that enhance or undermine the confidence in American elections, and also look for any vulnerabilities that could lead to voter fraud. President Trump has been adamant that 3-5 million people voted illegally last November - but his supporters have offered up nothing near that level of fraud.
2. Democrats blast voter fraud investigation. It didn't take long for Democrats to blast the President's decision to set up this election fraud review, as they charge Republicans are simply looking for ways to suppress the votes of their political opponents. "There is no evidence – zero – of widespread voter fraud," said Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). "I am not certain what more the White House could do to signal its utter disregard for the democratic process in this country," said Rep. John Lewis (D-GA).
3. A familiar battle over whether there is voter fraud. With or without this federal panel, the issue of voter fraud is one that can showcase how two people may live in the United States of America, but they seem to inhabit completely different universes when it comes to evaluating the threat of voter fraud. The President has said several times that there were between 3-5 million illegal votes in 2016, but he has not offered up - the White House has not offered up - his backers haven't offered up any evidence to support that claim.
4. Pro tip: voter fraud sounds big at first. I have learned the hard way by covering elections that often there are claims that make it sound like we have finally stumbled on a giant voter fraud story, but then it doesn't pan out that way. Detroit, Michigan in 2016 would be a perfect example, when hundreds of precincts couldn't be fully recounted, because of polling irregularities. But after a review by state elections officials, there wasn't much to see. "The total number of ballots in question in the remaining precincts was less than 600 out of 250,000 total cast citywide, and Elections staff was able to reduce that number to less than 200," read the Michigan election review. Officials also found 31 people may have voted twice - out of over 4.5 million. That's a fraud rate of 0.00000681318%.
5. In North Carolina it was 0.00010583333%. North Carolina's audit of its 2016 election results found 508 illegal votes out of 4.8 million. While Michigan had 31 cases of double voting, North Carolina had 24. So, yes, there is evidence of voter fraud - but no, there is not evidence of 3-5 million illegal votes being cast in an election.