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Trump has disbanded his voter fraud commission, blaming state resistance

Critics warned that the commission was a front for voter suppression efforts. Now it’s gone.

President Donald Trump. Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President Donald Trump’s controversial “election integrity” commission is no more.

On Wednesday, the White House released a statement saying that Trump had “signed an executive order to dissolve the Commission,” tasking the Department of Homeland Security “to review these issues and determine next courses of action.”

States’ resistance to the commission appeared to force its demise. The White House said that “many states have refused to provide the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity with basic information relevant to its inquiry.” So the White House backed off, arguing that it was better than the alternative of “endless legal battles at taxpayer expense.”

In June, the commission sent requests to states asking for all voters’ names, party IDs, addresses, and even the last four digits of their Social Security numbers, among other information. The request was so sweeping that more than 40 states, led by Democrats and Republicans, partly or fully rejected it then as federal overreach.

Then, in July, the commission also posted the full emails that critics, including private citizens, had sent the commission, leaving sensitive personal information uncensored — such as names, phone numbers, and addresses. That led to more criticism, including from Democratic senators.

Activists had long worried that the White House commission would use concerns about supposed voter fraud to propose new measures making it more difficult to vote. Citing voter fraud, Republicans at the state level have enacted new restrictions, such as strict photo ID rules, that disproportionately hinder minority and Democratic voters — which critics characterize as voter suppression.

The White House claimed in its latest statement that there is “substantial evidence of voter fraud,” even though it has provided no such evidence. Trump similarly claimed on Twitter, without any evidence, that “millions” of people voting illegally had cost him the popular vote in the 2016 election.

Experts, meanwhile, have repeatedly concluded that voter fraud is very rare. A state investigation in North Carolina found that in-person voter fraud — the kind of voter fraud that Republican voting restrictions typically target — made up just 0.00002 percent of all votes in the state in 2016.

And in an investigation spanning from 2000 to 2014, Loyola Law School professor Justin Levitt found 35 total credible accusations of voter impersonation between 2000 and 2014, constituting a few hundred ballots at most. During this 15-year period, more than 800 million ballots were cast in national general elections and hundreds of millions more were cast in primary, municipal, special, and other elections.

Critics of the commission celebrated its demise.

“This commission started as a tragedy and ended as a farce,” Brennan Center president Michael Waldman said in a statement. “It was a colossal waste of taxpayer money from the very beginning. It failed to find any evidence of the millions of illegal voters claimed by President Trump. But this should be more than just a somewhat-comic ending to a misguided effort. The claim of widespread voter fraud in the United States is in fact, fraud. The demise of this commission should put this issue to rest.”

For more on Trump’s voter fraud commission, read Vox’s explainer.

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