And then there is Kris Kobach, the commission’s vice chairman and guiding light, the man more responsible than perhaps anyone else for keeping alive the bogus specter of voting fraud in America. Mr. Kobach is the secretary of state of Kansas, where he has worked tirelessly for years to smoke out illegal voting by noncitizens, dead voters and other malefactors. In place of actual evidence, he relies on an antifraud data collection program with a 99-percent error rate. His results? Nine convictions, mostly of older white Republican men who voted twice.
Mr. Kobach’s failures have not induced in him any apparent humility. In September, he said it was “highly likely” that more than 5,000 fraudulent votes swung the 2016 Senate election in New Hampshire, which was narrowly won by a Democrat, Maggie Hassan, and suggested fraud was also responsible for Mrs. Clinton’s victory in the state. Like almost all other claims of voter fraud, it wasn’t true — most of those votes probably were cast by college students who legally registered and voted with out-of-state IDs. But that didn’t stop Republican lawmakers in the state from passing a bill on Wednesday that would impose what is essentially a poll tax on students who want to exercise their right to vote.
All of this is laughable, but it would be a big mistake to assume that the collapse of the commission means the end of the voter-fraud inquisition. To the contrary, Mr. Kobach, who called Mr. Trump’s lie about millions of illegal voters “absolutely correct,” seems more than happy to continue his voter-suppression tactics in the dark. On Wednesday, Mr. Kobach told Politico, “Anyone on the left needs to realize that by throwing the food in the air, they just lost a seat at the table.” If you ask Mr. Dunlap, they never had a seat in the first place.
Mr. Kobach has already shifted his attention to the Department of Homeland Security, which might seem like an odd choice until you remember his anti-immigrant crusade. He’s especially keen on changing federal voting law, as he succeeded in changing Kansas law, to require all voters to show proof of citizenship. He claims this reduces fraud, even though there’s extremely little evidence of noncitizens voting anywhere.
There is a tendency to cast any defeat for President Trump as a win for liberals or the “resistance” more generally. In this case, the win is for democracy, and for competent governance, in the face of a calculated disinformation campaign. So, go ahead and enjoy the demise of a phony diversion that should never have existed to begin with. But as long as the nation is run by xenophobic fabulists with an ax to grind, the animating spirit of the commission will live on to haunt us all.