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Connecticut's Top Election Official Says End Of Election Fraud Commission An "Ominous" Sign

Chion Wolf

In the days after the 2016 elections, President-elect Donald Trump tweeted, without evidence, that millions of illegal voters robbed him of the popular vote. To that end, the Trump administration established the election fraud commission last year, who were tasked with finding proof of widespread voter fraud nationwide. Now, that commission has been scrapped.

The panel was controversial from the start, in part for requesting sensitive information, like the birth dates and social security numbers of registered voters. Those requests were met with pushback from many state election officials, including Connecticut's Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.

“We ended up sending nothing,” said Merrill. “I felt very strongly that the activities of this commission and what they were going to do with these records was really extra legal.

“Fortunately, I was joined by most of my colleagues throughout the country, including many, many Republican secretaries of state, who felt that this was a federal overreach into elections.”

Merrill’s statement contradicts a recent tweet from President Trump that accused "mostly Democrat States" of refusing to hand over voter information.

Now that the commission has disbanded, the Trump administration has ordered the Department of Homeland Security to take over the investigation, a move that gives Merrill concern.

“Everything at Homeland Security is confidential and secret,” Merrill said. “So I would imagine that same culture will carry over into something like this. I think this is a very dangerous move having Homeland Security be an agency that deals with elections.”

Merrill said her office has been working closely with DHS on cybersecurity issues and clean elections, which she described as a “real issue,” as opposed to the “fake issue” of voter fraud.

“We have gone back to look to see how many complaints of voter fraud we’ve had,” Merrill said. “We’ve had maybe one or two in a 20-year period. This idea that there are massive numbers of people voting illegally, in person, there is just no evidence of that whatsoever.”

Merrill said she has not heard from DHS on when, or even if they will launch their own investigation into voter fraud.

Ray Hardman is Connecticut Public’s Arts and Culture Reporter. He is the host of CPTV’s Emmy-nominated original series Where Art Thou? Listeners to Connecticut Public Radio may know Ray as the local voice of Morning Edition, and later of All Things Considered.

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