President Trump signed an Executive Order Wedensday disbanding his controversial Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, tasked with investigating reports of voter fraud in the 2016 election.
The refusal by most states to turn over voter data, along with several lawsuits filed by voting rights groups were said to have ultimately hobbled the commission’s work.
“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,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “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.”
In June 2017, at least 29 states refused to hand over voter data to the commission, established the previous month after President Trump insisted that as many as 5 million votes were illegally cast in the 2016 presidential election.
Numerous states are refusing to give information to the very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL. What are they trying to hide?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 1, 2017
Echoing Trump’s skepticism at the time, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the vice chair of the commission, had a similar response to the president on states refusing to comply.
“Frankly, if a state like Kentucky or California won’t provide available information, one has to ask the question, ‘Why not?’” Kobach told NPR, adding “I mean, what are they trying to hide if they don’t want a presidential advisory commission to study their state voter rolls?” he asked.
Several states replied to that question, according to The Hill, after the Commission’s first action was to ask states for the names, addresses, birthdates, partial social security numbers, party affiliation, felon status and other data for every registered voter.
“There’s not enough bourbon here in Kentucky to make this request seem sensible,” Kentucky’s Democratic Secretary of State, Alison Lundergan Grimes, said on MSNBC. “Not on my watch are we going to be releasing sensitive information that relate to the privacy of individuals.”
Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, a Republican, also said he won’t turn over any information to the panel, telling members of the voter fraud commission to, “go jump in the Gulf of Mexico.”
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, took a similar line, calling the Trump investigation an attempt to suppress the vote.
You can add PA to that list. We will not participate in this systematic effort to suppress the vote. https://t.co/EHnY2NJI5R
— Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) June 30, 2017
Election officials from both sides of the aisle expressed skepticism about Trump’s claim of voter fraud: “In Ohio, we pride ourselves on being a state where it is easy to vote and hard to cheat,” said Jon Husted, Ohio’s Republican secretary of state. “Voter fraud happens, it’s rare and when it happens we hold people accountable. I believe that as the Commission does its work, it will find the same about our state.”
Several states, among them California and New York, said participating in the attempt to compile voter data would only serve to legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud,” according to Democratic Secretary of State Alex Padilla. On the other hand, by refusing to participate in the first place, they force Trump himself to question what it is they are hiding.
Democrats and voting rights groups were quick to cheer the panel’s demise, reports NPR:
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said that it was nothing more than “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.“
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