US President Donald Trump has decided to dissolve the voter fraud commission, months after calling for the investigation based on his unfounded claims of illegal voting in the 2016 election.
The White House issued a statement on Wednesday, 3 January, confirming that the president had signed an executive order to shut down the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, claiming it did not want to spend taxpayers' money to fight the various legal battles against states that were not willing to comply.
Despite winning the Electoral College vote, Trump lost the majority vote by over 2.8 million during the 2016 presidential race. With Democrats rarely missing out on the opportunity to point that out, the president cried "voter fraud" and called for a commission to investigate his baseless suspicions.
Speaking to reporters, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stressed that the commission was being closed "despite substantial evidence of voter fraud". She claimed that many states had refused to provide basic information relevant to the inquiry and the government did not want to "engage in endless legal battles at the taxpayer's expense" by pressing on with the investigation.
The VP Mike Pence-led panel met only twice, immediately facing opposition from more than a dozen states which claimed that sharing details was a violation of voters' rights and would deter minorities from taking part in the election process.
"The Democrats, both on and off the commission, made it very clear that they were not interested in determining the scope and extent of voter fraud and, indeed, they were trying to stop the commission in its tracks," Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the commission's vice chairman, said. "The Democrats lost their opportunity, lost their seat at the table, by stonewalling."
He claimed that the decision to dissolve the panel was a tactical one so that the Department of Homeland Security could create a separate investigation to get to the crux of the issue more effectively.
Democrats and liberals celebrated the repeal.
"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," Michael Waldman, president of the liberal Brennan Center for Justice, said in a statement.
"It is no surprise that a commission founded on a lie of widespread voter fraud proved to be a fraud itself," said California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, a Democrat, who had refused to comply with the commission's request for voter data. "No taxpayer dollars should have been wasted on Mr. Trump's voter suppression crusade."
"President Trump has tried and failed to spread his own fake news about voter fraud," Dale Ho, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Voting Rights Project said about the commission, which he described as engaging in "a wild goose chase for voter fraud, demonising the very American voters whom we should all be helping to participate — with the not-so-secret goal of making voting harder with unnecessary barriers."