January 10, 2018 / 2:57 PM / 8 months ago

Voter panel made no findings, will destroy data - White House

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump’s controversial voter fraud panel made no early findings and will not give the Department of Homeland Security any voter data it received, the White House’s top technology official said.

FILE PHOTO - A voter casts his ballot during the U.S. presidential election in Medina, Ohio, U.S. November 8, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk

In a document filed late on Tuesday with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, White House Information Technology Director Charles Herndon said it “intends to destroy all state voter data” the panel had received after Trump disbanded to commission last week

“The state voter data will not be transferred to, or accessed or utilized by, DHS or any other agency,” Herndon wrote.

Last week, the White House said it was shuttering the presidential election fraud panel amid costly lawsuits by civil rights groups and challenges by a number of U.S. states that had objected to handing over voters’ data.

Most state officials who oversee elections, including Republicans and Democrats, as well as election law experts say voter fraud is rare in the United States.

Trump on Jan. 3 ordered DHS to examine alleged voter fraud, but the department’s election security unit days later said it had no immediate plans to probe the allegations.

State and federal officials said having DHS pursue voter fraud allegations would undermine efforts to protect voting systems from cyber attacks, a current DHS priority.

It was not clear how much data, such as names, birth dates, political affiliation and voting histories, was handed over to the panel given more than 20 states refused to disclose it while others said they had to study whether they could provide it.

Trump, a Republican, set up the commission in May after charging, without evidence, that millions of people voted unlawfully in the 2016 presidential election in which he defeated Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton despite losing the popular vote.

Herndon’s filing came after Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, one of the former voter panel’s members, asked the court to block the transfer of any voter data to another U.S. agency.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders last week told reporters the administration would continue its review, and would “send the preliminary findings from the commission to the Department of Homeland Security and make determinations on the best way forward from that point.”

But in his filing, Herndon said the panel did not make any preliminary findings.

Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Andrew Hay

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