President Donald Trump hasn’t backed away from his unsubstantiated claim that millions of illegally cast ballots cost him the popular vote in 2016, but his efforts to investigate it appear to have stalled. He transferred the work of the commission investigating his claim to the Department of Homeland Security. This week, the department’s top official made it clear that, when it comes to elections, her focus is on safeguarding state and local voting systems from cyberattacks and other manipulation.
While the U.S. Department of Justice has broad authority to investigate voter fraud claims, White House officials said previously that Homeland Security was the best agency to take over the work of the now-disbanded Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. A Justice Department official declined comment this week on whether the agency was conducting any reviews related to voter fraud, but confirmed that no voter data collected by the commission, nor analysis of the data, was given to the agency before the commission was disbanded.
The end of the commission is welcome news to voting rights advocates concerned that its ultimate goal was to promote voter-suppression efforts. They and numerous state election officials were alarmed when the commission issued a broad request to states last spring for detailed information on their voters, including partial Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses and voting history.