Nearly eight months after President Donald Trump disbanded his election integrity commission because it was tangled up in lawsuits over its request for voters’ personal data, the information has been destroyed and the cases have been dismissed.
Trump’s administration notified plaintiffs in one lawsuit against the commission Wednesday that personal voter data requested by the commission once led by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach had been destroyed. The case, brought by Democracy Forward Foundation, was then dismissed.
Democracy Forward represented Common Cause, a Washington-based political watchdog group, and four individuals in the lawsuit. It was one of several groups challenging the commission’s request for states’ publicly available voter information, including voters’ full names, addresses, dates of birth, partial Social Security numbers, voting history and other personal information.
“We are pleased the administration realized its grievous error in targeting individual voters and has deleted the voter data in its possession,” said Josephine Morse, senior counsel at the Democracy Forward Foundation. “We will remain vigilant and continue to push back against unlawful actions that undermine the integrity of our electoral process.”
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Democracy Forward filed the lawsuit last year, arguing the commission didn’t have the authority to investigate voter fraud and Kobach didn’t have the authority to request such information. The lawsuit also claimed the data collection violated voters’ privacy.
Two weeks ago, Charles Herndon, a member of the Trump administration, notified plaintiffs in a case filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center against the commission that the data had been destroyed.
In a filing, Herndon said the data was destroyed Aug. 2 and any encrypted remnants that remained because of automatic backups were destroyed Aug. 16. The data, he said, are “entirely deleted and unrecoverable.”
The Electronic Privacy Information Center’s case also was dismissed.
The Kobach-led election integrity commission sparked outrage from the beginning after Trump repeatedly made unsupported claims of voter fraud as a presidential candidate.
Voter fraud has been a key issue for Kobach as Kansas secretary of state, and his nomination to vice chair of the commission was, to some, a cause for concern that the commission would investigate voter fraud with a pre-determined outcome in mind.
Kobach did not immediately return a request for comment.