Compliance Management, Threat Management

White House disbands election integrity commission

Facing resistance from states fearing privacy concerns and voter suppression as well as a wide array of lawsuits, the President's controversial Advisory Commission on Election Integrity was disbanded, the White House said late Wednesday.

Alarmed by the breadth of voter data requested by the commission - formed by the White House after President Trump alleged massive voter fraud during the presidential election handed rival Hillary Clinton a nearly three million popular vote lead while he won the Electoral College - many states had resisted its overtures, leading the White House to concede it was fighting an uphill battle.

"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," according to a statement from White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders that noted the commission had been swamped with lawsuits.

“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,” the statement said.  

“We know there are very serious problems in our democracy that voters want addressed, such as foreign interference and voter suppression efforts, but this commission never planned on tackling any of those,” Danielle Lang, CAmpsigb Legal Center senior counsel, said in a statement. “Instead, the commission was nothing more than a partisan tool to implement an agenda that would make it harder for Americans to vote. Thus far, DHS has been focused on real election integrity issues related to hacking and security of our electoral infrastructure, as it should be. CLC will be watching closely to see if President Trump and former Kansas Secretary of State Kobach, vice-chair of the commission, will try to derail DHS's work in an effort to continue to push a partisan agenda that makes it more difficult for Americans to participate in the political process.”

With the exception of Arkansas, the states originally balked at proving the data requested by the commission, concerned that voter privacy would be compromised and that the information would be used to suppress votes. 

The commission put its efforts on hold after the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), filed for a restraining order in a federal court in the District of Columbia, seeking to bar the commission from gathering data, prompting the commission to temporarily halt its efforts. But a judge denied the request saying EPIC hasn't proven harm. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has also filed a lawsuit against the commission, questioning the transparency of the commission chaired by Vice President Mike Pence. 

Co-Chairman Kris Kobach, the controversial Kansas Secretary of State, promised to preserve voter privacy and ensure the security of the data, allaying concerns of some lawmakers like Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams who called it "a significant improvement" that would hopefully lure back voters in the state who had unregistered in protest.

“It's my hope that citizens who withdrew their registration will re-register, particularly once they realize that no confidential information will be provided and that the parties and presidential candidates already have the same publicly available information from the 2016 election cycle,” Williams said at the time. 

Democrats on the commission, which only met twice during its short, turbulent tenure, contended they were being left out and the group was besieged by lawsuits. 

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