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Blackwell: Lawsuits, Democrats at fault for end of voter fraud panel

Blaming “a knot of lawsuits” and “a wall of resistance” from Democratic election officials, former Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell said President Donald Trump made “the right move” to scrap an advisory council he created to study election fraud in the United States.

As Democratic officials cheered the panel’s demise, Blackwell, one of its 12 members, said Thursday he urged the White House last November to have the U.S. Department of Homeland Security focus on what he called “domestic and foreign threats to the integrity of our system.”

“Why stayed locked into a knot of lawsuits and a wall of non-cooperation (from Democrats) when you can skin the cat the other way?” Blackwell asked.

RELATED: Former Ohio governor candidate on Trump election panel

Blackwell said the panel had to deal with the death last October of Democratic commission member David Dunn of Arkansas while Democratic commissioner Matthew Dunlap filed a lawsuit claiming he had been locked out of some of the panel’s meetings.

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“We were marching in place,” Blackwell said.

The full commission has not met since September.

Although Trump and Blackwell blamed Democrats, a number of Republican state officials were reluctant to give the commission all the information it sought.

The Brennan Center for Justice in New York reported that as of October of last year, California, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Carolina and Vermont had refused to provide any information to the commission, Ohio and 16 other states turned over limited statistics they said were not shielded by state law, and 14 other states had not made a decision on whether to comply.

In a statement Thursday, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said voting “has always been a state responsibility and we will continue to ensure that in Ohio it is easy to vote and hard to cheat, rooting out instances of voter fraud and holding those guilty accountable.”

RELATED: Ohio election chief at odds with Trump over voter fraud

Trump created the commission because of his claim – which never has been proven – that as many as five million people voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election. Blackwell, however, said last year the panel was not designed to prove or dis-prove Trump’s claim.

Democrats denounced the commission, charging that conservative Republicans have failed for years to prove the U.S. election system is plagued by widespread fraud.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said the commission “found no fraud because there had been no fraud, and it should not be revived by the Department of Homeland Security.”

In a statement, Hoyer called the commission “a waste of taxpayer resources and had no other purpose than to make it harder for millions of eligible voters to cast ballots in our elections. It represented a culmination of years of Republican efforts to roll back basic voting rights.”

RELATED: Lawsuits filed over Trump voting commission request

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