President Donald Trump’s commission designed to investigate voter fraud was doomed to fail, largely because no evidence of the problem exists.
After six months of demanding information from states and 15 lawsuits, the commission has disbanded with nothing to show for its efforts and will delete all the state voter data that its members once doggedly pursued, according to new court filings.
The commission was lead by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a passionate proponent of the voter fraud myth, and Vice President Mike Pence. Last June, Kobach sent letters to all 50 states and Washington, D.C., asking them to turn over sensitive voter roll information, including private citizens’ names, addresses, birthdates, Social Security numbers, military status, party affiliations, felon status, and more. The request caused a slew of lawsuits accusing Kobach and his cohorts of breaking federal law by failing to explain how they intended to use the data and keep it safe.
After Trump scrapped the commission last week, the White House released a statement that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would take over the reins. But on Tuesday, Charles Herndon, director of White House Information technology, said in a sworn statement that the state voter data wouldn’t be transferred to DHS or any other agency. “The Commission did not create any preliminary findings,” Hendon added. “The White House intends to destroy all state voter data.”
Like a dog with a bone, Trump has stubbornly clung to the voter fraud myth — which he’s used to justify the fact that he didn’t win the popular vote in the 2016 election. And he’s not letting go of that idea anytime soon. Last Thursday, Trump tweeted it was the Democrats' fault that the commission didn’t work out.
"Many mostly Democrat States refused to hand over data from the 2016 Election to the Commission On Voter Fraud," he wrote. "They fought hard that the Commission not see their records or methods because they know that many people are voting illegally. System is rigged, must go to Voter I.D."
Despite the president’s claims, it wasn't just Democrats balking at Kobach’s broad request for states' voter information.
For example, Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, a Republican, said that the commission could “go jump in the Gulf of Mexico.” Mississippi later partially complied with the request for its voter rolls. But fifteen states, including Kentucky and North Dakota, flat out refused.
For Kobach, who’s now running for Kansas governor, the dream still isn’t over. He told the Kansas City Star last week that he would be “working closely with DHS and the White House as the investigation moves forward.”
A spokesperson for DHS, however, disputed his claims. “Mr. Kobach is not advising DHS in a formal or informal manner,” Tyler Q. Houlton, a spokesperson for DHS, told The Star. “Of course, if an issue were to arise, we would work with him in his official capacity as the Kansas secretary of state as we do with any secretary of state and other state and local officials.”
Neither Kobach nor DHS returned VICE News’ request for comment.