White House plans to destroy Trump election fraud commission's voter data

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The White House intends to destroy voter data collected by the election fraud commission President 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.

Herndon also indicated that White House press secretary Sarah Sanders' comment last week that the commission's "preliminary findings" were being sent to DHS was inaccurate.

"The Commission did not create any preliminary findings," Herndon wrote.

Earlier Tuesday, lawyers for one of the former commission's members, Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, asked U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly to halt any effort to move or copy the voter data to another federal agency.

"The state voter data will not be transferred to, or accessed by, DHS or any other agency, except to the National Archives and Records Administration ('NARA'), pursuant to federal law, if the records are not otherwise destroyed," Herndon wrote. "Pending resolution of outstanding litigation involving the Commission, and pending consultation with NARA, the White House intends to destroy all state voter data."

As the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity was ramping up last June, the panel's vice chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, asked all 50 states to submit their voter rolls. Kobach also asked for information like partial social security numbers and criminal conviction data.

Kobach stressed that the commission was only seeking publicly available data. Still, dozens of states pushed back against the request, saying planned to reject it in whole or in part.

The commission was also hit eight lawsuits, some of which charged that the panel was violating the law in collecting or handling the data. 

When Trump disbanded the commission last week, he cited the suits as well as the refusal of many states to cooperate with the group's work.

Kobach told POLITICO last week that he expected officials in or overseeing Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement branch would take over the voter fraud probe, matching state voter rolls against federal databases of legal and illegal immigrants.

However, Herndon's statements suggest that if DHS or ICE want to undertake an effort to examine illegal voting they will have to start from scratch, at least when it comes to obtaining the voter data.

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