Trump Just Disbanded His Contested Election Integrity Commission

Frederick Owens
January 7, 2018

While Trump has repeatedly claimed there was widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election, he announced the abandonment of the commission late on a day dominated by revelations in a new book about the White House and his presidency.

The White House blamed the decision to end the panel on more than a dozen states that have refused to comply with the commission's demand for reams of personal voter data, including names, partial Social Security numbers, voting histories and party affiliations. "Rather than engage in endless legal battles at taxpayer expense, today President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order to dissolve the Commission, and have asked the Department of Homeland Security to review these issues and determine next courses of action".

Trump created the commission in May 2017 after he continued to insist that as many as 5 million votes were cast illegally in the November 2016 presidential election where he bested Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

Trump established the commission in May to research "improper" voter registration procedures, systemic vulnerabilities and voting irregularities including any scenario where a person ineligible to vote becomes an eligible voter in a particular jurisdiction.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was co-chairman, with Vice President Mike Pence, of the ill-fated and unnecessary Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

On Thursday, Trump turned his attention to stronger voter ID laws.

From the start, critics had called the commission a sham and civil rights and good-government groups sued. Supporters of the laws, mostly Republicans, say they protect against voter fraud.

Democratic lawmakers quickly weighed in after the committee was disbanded. "System is rigged, must go to Voter I.D.", he tweeted.

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Yet state and local election officials, including some Republicans, said they refused to hand over voter information because of privacy concerns as well as the fact there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

"The commission's entire objective was to legitimize voter suppression", Vanita Gupta, president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and former head of the Justice Departments Civil Rights Division, told the Times.

Trump won the Electoral College, giving him the White House, but he lost the popular vote to Clinton by nearly 3 million votes.

Leaders from dozens of states including Democratic-leaning bastions such as NY and Trump-won Republican states such as Texas, either refused to comply with the commission requests completely or rejected them in part citing privacy laws. "It was a change in tactics", Kobach told USA TODAY.

The list of activists and organizations that challenged the commission is lengthy, including numerous nation's most prominent civil rights groups and good-government nonprofits.

The mission of the commission was transferred to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In the lawsuit, Dunlap's lawyers said that the commission's "superficial bipartisanship has been a facade".

Among her concerns is that DHS may try to get voter information from states. It was Kobach who sent a letter to states in June seeking information from their voter rolls.

The Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of NY, said in a statement that "the commission never had anything to do with election integrity".

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