At least 24 states are pushing back or outright refusing to comply with the Trump administration’s request for voter registration data, The Hill reports.
The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, formed by President Donald Trump to investigate his widely debunked claim that millions of illegal votes cost him the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, sent letters this week to the 50 secretaries of state across the country requesting information about voters.
The letter, signed by commission vice chairman and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, asked for names, addresses, birth dates and party affiliations of registered voters in each state. It also sought felony convictions, military statuses, the last four digits of social security numbers and voting records dating back to 2006, according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Hill.
Many states immediately raised concerns and voiced their opposition to providing the information. Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said that she has no intention of releasing the data.
“The president created his election commission based on the false notion that ‘voter fraud’ is a widespread issue, it is not. I do not intend to release Kentuckians’ sensitive personal data to the federal government”, Lundergan Grimes said.
Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, a Republican, similarly said he won’t turn over any information to the panel, telling members of the voter fraud commission to, “go jump in the Gulf of Mexico”. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, took a similar line.
Chief election officials from both sides of the aisle also expressed skepticism about Trump’s claim of voter fraud.
“In Ohio, we pride ourselves on being a state where it is easy to vote and hard to cheat. Voter fraud happens, it’s rare and when it happens we hold people accountable. I believe that as the Commission does its work, it will find the same about our state”, said Jon Husted, Ohio’s Republican Secretary of State.
“California’s participation would only serve to legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud,” Democratic Secretary of State Alex Padilla said in a statement about the letter.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, both Democrats, said their states would not provide confidential information.
“New York refuses to perpetuate the myth voter fraud played a role in our election. We will not be complying with this request”, Cuomo said in a statement.
Even a member of the Kobach commission said her state would not comply. Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, the President of the National Association of Secretaries of State, announced in a statement that her state wouldn’t release certain information requested by Kobach.
“Indiana law doesn’t permit the secretary of state to provide the personal information requested by Secretary Kobach. Under Indiana public records laws, certain voter info is available to the public, the media and any other person who requested the information for non-commercial purposes. The information publicly available is name, address and congressional district assignment”, Lawson said.
Officials in Wisconsin, Colorado and Texas said their states would release public information, but certain data, including full dates of birth and social security numbers, were confidential and would not be released. North Dakota’s director of elections, John Arnold, told The Hill that state law would not allow the presidential commission access to voter information.
“Wisconsin statutes do not permit the state to release a voter’s date of birth, driver license number or social security number,” Michael Haas, the administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, said in a release.
Officials in Connecticut, Minnesota, Rhode Island and Utah also expressed skepticism and said their states would withhold nonpublic information.
Trump appointed another voter identification supporter, Heritage Foundation fellow Hans von Spakovsky, to the commission Thursday. Von Spakovsky, one of Kobach’s mentors, has long advocated for stricter voter access rules.
The 24 states are Arizona, California, Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.