Voting rights advocates and some state election officials cheered President Donald Trump's announcement that he was disbanding his election fraud commission, but their celebration could be short-lived.
In a statement, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders repeated Trump's oft-made claim of voter fraud, but said that "rather than engage in endless legal battles at taxpayer expense", Trump had ended the commission and asked the Department of Homeland Security to take up the review of United States election systems.
Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, a Democratic member of the commission, also filed a lawsuit saying the commission was withholding requested records from its own members.
Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, said voter ID laws, including in his home state, are meant to deter voters.
His allegation that certain states refused to provide confidential voter data requested by the Commission because states "know many people are voting illegally" is false.More news: Powerball numbers: Did you win Saturday's $390.1 million lottery jackpot?
Kobach and other Republicans have pushed for state laws requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls or to provide papers documenting USA citizenship to register. And, Democrats have a narrow path to 24 seats - even with a big wave or tailwind. While the Lawyers' Committee applauds the demise of the Commission, it is concerned that the President's attempt to transfer the effort to the Department of Homeland Security will lead to the same unlawful and unconstitutional result.
"The President's Election Integrity Commission was a vehicle launched with the singular goal of laying the groundwork to promote voter suppression policies on a national scale", said Kristen Clarke, the president and executive director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. "The abrupt abandonment of the commission makes clear that it had become a thoroughly discredited body that could not find evidence of mass voter fraud".
"I wondered if they might not go in this direction simply because of the court order and everything seemed to be working in a pretty dysfunctional way from the beginning", he said.
More than 32 states had previously refused to comply with the Trump administration's request for voter registration data as part of the commission's investigation, with some states being barred by local law to release such information about the voter rolls.
Sarah Sanders, a spokeswoman for the White House, said the administration determined DHS was the best agency to handle the concerns.
A study by a Loyola Law School professor found that out of 1 billion votes cast in all American elections between 2000 and 2014, there were only 31 known cases of impersonation fraud.More news: More Stores, While Macy's Announces 5000 Job Cuts
DHS has the capability, if states cooperate, of gathering and using data on individual voters without the kind of transparency that was required of the commission.
Voter advocacy groups and Democrats applauded Wednesday's decision.
"DHS has more statutory authority to get information from states than the Kobach commission did, " she said. "No taxpayer dollars should have been wasted on Mr. Trump's voter suppression crusade".
He followed that up with another tweet asking Americans to "push hard for voter identification".
President Trump disbanded the commission just days before a deadline for detailing how it meant to proceed.More news: U.S. suspends security aid to Pakistan over militant groups
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