July 19 (UPI) -- At the first meeting of his Advisory Commission on Election Integrity Wednesday, President Donald Trump suggested that states refusing to hand over voter information may have something to hide.
Trump, through an executive order on May 11, established the federal commission with the goal of targeting problems in voting systems across the United States. The commission's first action was to request all U.S. states turn over detailed voter registration records.
The majority of states did not comply; state laws prevented some from doing so.
"If any state does not want to share this information, one has to wonder what they are worried about, and I asked the vice president, I asked the commission, what are they worried about?" Trump said Wednesday. "There's something, there always is."
The commission wanted registrants' fill names, addresses, dates of birth, political parties, the last four digits of their Social Security numbers, a list of the elections in which they voted since 2006, information on any felony convictions, whether they were registered to vote in other states, their military status and if they lived overseas.
Trump proposed the commission to investigate his allegation that up to 5 million people illegally voted in November -- a belief dismissed by some election officials and experts.
During his remarks Wednesday, Trump said it was necessary to root out voter fraud.
"Every time voter fraud occurs, it cancels out the vote of a lawful citizen and undermines democracy. We can't let that happen," he said. "Any form of illegal or fraudulent voting, whether by non-citizens or the deceased, and any form of voter suppression or intimidation must be stopped."
The leaders of the commission are Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Republican.
Pence said Wednesday the commission would study the registration and voting processes in federal elections.
"The commission will identify the laws, rules, policies, activities, strategies, and practices that will enhance the American people's confidence in the integrity of our electoral system," he said. "We'll also explore the vulnerabilities in our system that could lead to improper voter registration and even improper voting."
But even before its first convening, the election commission faced resistance. At least seven lawsuits have challenged its conduct and transparency, and another two complaints have been filed against two of the 12 members, The New York Times reported.
"It's fatally flawed from the design," said Dale Ho, the director of the voting rights project at the American Civil Liberties Union. "The commission didn't arise out of concerns about access to the ballot or error in tabulation by voting machines. It emerged out of Trump's tweet that he won the popular vote. When you know that and the personnel on the commission, you don't need to know anything else."
Also Wednesday, the Democratic National Committee launched its own commission -- the Commission to Protect American Democracy -- to remove obstacles to voting access. The leader of the commission, former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, accused the Trump commission of being a "vehicle for voter suppression."
Andrew V. Pestano contributed to this report.