Jan 3, 2018 | Washington Examiner
By Ariella Phillips
The Trump administration has ended its controversial voter fraud commission, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders announced Wednesday.
In a statement, the White House said, “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.”
The commission has faced numerous legal challenges. It was led by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a staunch supporter of voter ID laws, and Vice President Mike Pence.
“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,” the statement added.
President Trump established the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity after claiming “millions” of illegal votes were cast in the 2016 election, though experts say there has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud presented. Republican strategists have spoken out against the effort and two members of the commission also criticized the commission for lack of transparency.
The commission failed to prove Trump’s claim of widespread voter fraud, which the president cited as the reason for forming the commission in the first place.
An unnamed White House adviser told CNN that the entire effort was a “shit show,” adding that the commission went “off the rails.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., responded to news of the commission being dissolved, claiming it “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. This shows that ill-founded proposals that just appeal to a narrow group of people won’t work, and we hope they’ll learn this lesson elsewhere.”
Earlier this year, Kobach requested voter data from every state and the District of Columbia, including the names, addresses, birthdays, the last four digits of Social Security numbers if they are available, voter history, and other personal information.
Numerous states said they wouldn’t comply with the commission’s request for the identifying information. Voting rights advocates also expressed concern.
After Kobach wrote an op-ed in Breitbart alleging over 5,000 votes were cast illegally in the 2016 election using out-of-state IDs, tipping the election in favor of the Democrats, New Hampshire Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen called on Secretary of State Bill Gardner to resign from the commission. State law allows people, such as out-of-state college students, to register without a state ID.
“Now, the head of President Trump’s misguided commission is using deceiving and irrelevant data to rehash the same false claims,” the Democratic senators said in September.
In October, a judge in Texas issued a temporary restraining order saying the state may not release voter registration information to the commission. That suit was brought by the NAACP and the League of Women Voters of Texas.
In a separate case, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled in July that the commission may continue collecting state voter information, denying a watchdog group’s request to “delete and disgorge any voter roll data already collected or hereafter received.”
The Office of Government Accountability also opened an investigation into the commission after three Democratic senators requested a review of the panel. It is unclear if the investigation will continue now that the commission has disbanded.