[Updated: Short version: “The White House intends to destroy voter data collected by the election fraud commission [Donald Trump] recently shut down, the Justice Department said in a court filing Tuesday night. White House Director of Information Technology Charles Herndon said in a declaration submitted to a federal court in Washington that officials plan to erase the information, rather than transfer it to the Department of Homeland Security or the National Archives and Records Administration.” Or so they say.]
Good riddance to the Advisory Commission on Election Fraud, but in the age of Trump and his GOP thugs, VT Sec. of State Condos says:“We must be vigilant and focused on preserving our democracy.”
The presidential advisory group launched last May by the Trump administration to root out imaginary voter fraud has been disbanded. The White House announced a week ago that the Department of Homeland Security would take over commission’s unfinished “work.”
From day one the so-called “Advisory Commission on Election Integrity” chaired by Vice President Mike Pence and managed by vice chair Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach was widely seen as a vehicle to purge voter rolls and suppress voters’ right to vote. In his position as Kansas Sec. of State Kobach advocated proof-of-citizenship requirements. He wholeheartedly endorsed Trump’s false assertion that if thousands had not voted illegally for president in New Hampshire he would have won the election’s popular vote. And let’s not forget to give proper credit to New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu (R) for animating that lie for the GOP early in the campaign, which, like a zombie, still shuffles around Trumpland.
So good riddance to the troubled commission! Commission member Maine Sec. of State
Mike Matt Dunlap(D) had sued it to obtain documents which Kobach kept secret from its own members. Now predictions are that the shift to DHS will basically spell the end of the Trump’s efforts – no sane official would take on the troubled commission’s job. Or as one observer aptly put it: Justin Levitt, a professor at Loyola University School of Law and a former Department of Justice civil rights official quoted by propubilca.org says “You don’t normally want to be the second person to jump on a live grenade.”
A tireless advocate for voting rights Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos, also the current president of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), has been out front opposing the commission. Early on Condos refused Kobach’s request to hand over Vermont voter data. Now he remains skeptical that democracy’s victory will mean no further assaults by the GOP and Trump administration’s organized meddling. Condos said about the move to DHS: “I believe this is an attempt to give the federal government even more freedom to meddle in our elections, a state-run function. I am concerned about gross federal overreach, and this move only fuels fears of a federal takeover of state elections, damaging the trust we’ve been trying to build with DHS in collaborating on election security.”
The ACLU has already taken legal action to block any transfer of data from the dissolved commission to the DHS. But if we have learned anything from the Trump (and the GOP) in the last year it is that this likely not the end of it. His GOP enablers have long history of voter suppression and Trump seems determined and has promised to find and root out the “fraud” that he imagines cost him the popular vote. In this case we should take him at his word; rule number one for surviving under an autocratic regime is: Believe the autocrat.