After dozens of states refused to submit voter data to President Donald Trump’s controversial commission on election integrity, Trump decided on Jan. 3 to dissolve the commission and place responsibility for voter fraud investigation in the hands of the Department of Homeland Security.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders released a statement citing the lack of cooperation as a central reason for the commission’s dissolution:
“Despite substantial evidence of voter fraud, many states have refused to provide the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity with basic information relevant to its inquiry. Rather than engage in endless legal battles at taxpayer expense, today I 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 himself took to twitter to express his frustration with states that didn’t cooperate with the commission’s data requests:
“Many mostly Democrat States refused to hand over data from the 2016 Election to the Commission On Voter Fraud. They fought hard that the Commission not see their records or methods because they know that many people are voting illegally. System is rigged, must go to Voter I.D.
“As Americans, you need identification, sometimes in a very strong and accurate form, for almost everything you do.....except when it comes to the most important thing, VOTING for the people that run your country. Push hard for Voter Identification!”
The commission was created in May 2017, and faced lawsuits over its secrecy and intended use of the collected data from both states and one of its own members, Maine secretary of state Matthew Dunlap.
“What’s remarkable about my lawsuit is that I’m a member of the commission, and apparently this is the only way I can find out what we’re doing,” Dunlap wrote in a Nov. 30, 2017, Washington Post op-ed.
“The commission was formed in May to answer monster-under-the-bed questions about ‘voter fraud,’ but the implicit rationale for its creation appears to be to substantiate President Trump’s unfounded claims that up to 5 million people voted illegally in 2016. Chaired by Vice President Pence, the commission has the chance to answer questions about potential fraud and to highlight best practices to enhance voter confidence in our election systems. Yet it isn’t doing that. Instead, the commission is cloaking itself in secrecy, completely contrary to federal law.”
States were initially given until July 14, 2017, to provide names, birth dates and partial Social Security numbers to the commission, though many governors and secretaries of state went on the record claiming they would not be providing the requested data.
However, a lawsuit by the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, arguing that the commission’s plan for storing the data was insecure, delayed that deadline.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., applauded the dissolvement, adding that “ill-founded proposals that just appeal to a narrow group of people won’t work” in a statement on Twitter:
The commission never had anything to do with election integrity. It was instead a front to suppress the vote, perpetrate dangerous and baseless claims, and was ridiculed from one end of the country to the other.— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) January 4, 2018