President Trump Signs Order Disbanding Voter Fraud Commission

Kristopher Drake
January 7, 2018

Voting rights advocates and some state election officials cheered President Donald Trump's announcement that he was disbanding his election fraud commission, but their celebration could be short-lived.

The president disbanded the controversial panel focused on "election integrity", blaming a refusal by more than a dozen states to provide what he called "basic information".

"Rather than engage in endless legal battles at taxpayer expense, today President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order to dissolve the Commission, and he has asked the Department of Homeland Security to review its initial findings and determine next courses of action", White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement Wednesday.

The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity was established by executive order in May after the president, who won the Electoral College but not the popular vote, insisted repeatedly that Hillary Clinton received approximately 2.9 million more votes because of illegal voting.

While there have been isolated cases of voter fraud in the USA, past studies have found it to be exceptionally rare.

Alongside VP Mike Pence, Trump put Kris Kobach in charge.

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

He followed that up with another tweet asking Americans to "push hard for voter identification".

Dunlap provided BuzzFeed News with a copy of an email time-stamped at 6:49 p.m. on Wednesday from the commission's designated federal officer, Andrew Kossack, notifying the commission members about the president's decision to dissolve the group. Supporters of the laws, mostly Republicans, say they protect against voter fraud.

Kristen Clarke, president of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonprofit advocacy group, also welcomed the news, calling the commission "a vehicle launched for the sole goal of laying the groundwork to promote voter suppression policies on a national scale". Trump alleged widespread voter fraud but couldn't substantiate these claims with facts, hence the administration had to go hunting for some. "System is rigged, must go to Voter I.D.", Trump tweeted.

More than 32 states had previously refused to comply with the Trump administration's request for voter registration data as part of the commission's investigation, with some states being barred by local law to release such information about the voter rolls. "It was a change in tactics", Kobach told USA TODAY.

"The commission was poorly organized and conceived", he wrote.

Kobach said he intends to work closely with DHS and the White House and expects the bulk of the DHS investigation to be done by midsummer. In the lawsuit, Dunlap's lawyers said that the commission's "superficial bipartisanship has been a facade". "The Department of Homeland Security is going to be able to move faster and more efficiently than a presidential advisory commission".

"I am deeply concerned that the work is being shifted over to DHS where it can be done behind closed doors and without the sunshine offered from open public scrutiny", Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos, a Democrat, said in a statement Thursday to The Associated Press. "While this chapter is now closed, I am committed to remaining vigilant on the front of election integrity and the transparent, free, and fair conduct of elections", Dunlap said.

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