WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump dissolved his much-touted voter fraud commission on Wednesday, attributing the step to various states’ refusal to participate in the board, which was criticized as a misguided step to solve a practically non-existent problem.
Trump established the commission in May, citing what he claimed were widespread accounts of falsified voting. The panel requested wide-reaching information about voters in every state, including dates of birth and partial Social Security numbers.
“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 White House said in a statement. “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.”
Critics contended Trump was simply finding a way to account for his popular vote loss in the 2016 presidential election.
The commission has been beset by controversy virtually since it began. A request for voter files from every state was met with swift and strong opposition by many state election officials, setting off a series of lawsuits over privacy, and requests were eventually scaled back.
Trump also named hard-liners to the panel who were known for their strong belief in widespread voter fraud, despite no research supporting the idea that fraudulent voting has been substantial in almost any election.
One of those members, the Heritage Foundation’s Hans Von Spakovsky, had also sent an email to the Justice Department prior to his appointment urging the government to not include any Democrats on the panel. The email was later made public.
Last summer, Kris Kobach, the panel’s vice chair, declined to say if Clinton won the popular vote in 2016.
“We will probably never know the answer to that question,” Kobach said on MSNBC. “Because even if you could prove that a certain number of votes were cast by ineligible voters, for example, you wouldn’t know how they voted.”
Kobach again faced heat from state officials for statements he made within New Hampshire about New Hampshire’s election practices. Those statements were part of the commission’s last formal public meeting and drew further outrage from Democrats.
Eventually, one Democratic member of the commission went public with his complaints that the commission was not including its Democratic members and his concern that it existed to substantiate Trump’s prior assertion, without evidence, that mass voter fraud took place in the 2016 election.
That Democratic member, Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, went to federal court to sue the commission and compel it to provide him with documents.
The US District Court in Washington sided with Dunlap in the lawsuit, which the commission’s executive director, Andrew Kossack, previously said had “no merit,” and ordered the commission to provide Dunlap with the information on commission activities and communications he requested.