WASHINGTON (CN) – President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday launching a commission to review alleged voter fraud and voter suppression, the basis of his unsubstantiated claims that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 election.
In the wake of his Electoral College victory in November, the president charges, without evidence, that 3 million to 5 million people voted illegally in the presidential election, and that explained Democrat Hillary Clinton’s huge edge in the popular vote.
He had vowed ever since that his administration would investigate voter fraud and that that investigation would prove his claims.
The White House said the president’s “Advisory Commission on Election Integrity” would examine allegations of improper voting and fraudulent voter registration in states and across the nation. Vice President Mike Pence will chair the panel and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach will be vice chair of the commission, which will report back to Trump by 2018.
According to the White House, the panel will be nonpartisan and will include current and former state election officials.
Kobach, who was not at the signing of the order, is a controversial pick for vice chair. He helped develop the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System after the attacks on September 11, which has been criticized by human rights organizations as targeting Muslim immigrants.
Kobach also launched a flurry of investigations into voter fraud in his own state. In April, the secretary announced that he obtained his first conviction of a non-U.S. citizen illegally voting in a Kansas election. Under his leadership, Kansas now requires new voters to produce proof of citizenship with a birth certificate, passport and naturalization papers.
According to the executive order, the 15-person commission will be “solely advisory” and it will identify laws, rules, policies, activities, strategies and practices that “enhance the American people’s confidence in the integrity of the voting processes used in federal elections” as well as those that “undermine” them.
It will also be tasked with identifying “vulnerabilities” that “could lead to improper voter registrations and improper voting, including fradulent voter registrations and fraudulent voting.”
Any findings from the commission are expected to be published in 2018. The executive order also mandates that the commission be terminated 30 days after it releases its final report.
After securing the candidacy in November, the president claimed that Clinton’s nearly 3 million more votes in the popular election was fraudulent.
In an ABC News interview with David Muir in January, the president said of the popular election totals: “You can never really find, you know, there are going to be — no matter what numbers we come up with there are going to be lots of people that did things that we’re not going to find out about.”
In the months after Trump’s win, New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice found that 40 of 42 jurisdictions studied had no known incidents of non-citizens voting in the 2016 presidential election.