By Kurtis Lee

President Donald Trump's voter fraud commission, already facing several lawsuits, will now be investigated by a government watchdog.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office, an independent nonpartisan agency, announced Thursday that it has accepted a request by Democratic lawmakers to review the commission.

In an Oct. 18 letter requesting an investigation, Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet of Colorado, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota wrote that the manner in which the commission is conducting its work "will prevent the public from a full and transparent understanding of the commission's conclusions and unnecessarily diminish confidence in our democratic process."

Officials from the GAO wrote back that the review will begin when it has staff available in about five months.

In May, Trump established the commission to study registration and voting processes. Trump has alleged _ without evidence _ that 3 million to 5 million illegal votes were cast in last year's presidential election, in which he lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million ballots.

Critics have assailed the commission as both a sham created by an insecure president and a tool to justify measures that would make it harder for minorities to vote. Several groups have filed lawsuits against the commission _ which to date has held two public meetings _ over privacy concerns and the collection of voter data.

Two Democrats on the bipartisan commission sent letters to leaders of the panel last week condemning a lack of transparency.

(c)2017 Los Angeles Times