Backlash at Trump Commission Request for ‘Confidential’ Voter Data – NBCNews.com
The Presidential Commission on Voter Integrity sent what some experts called an alarming letter this week to all 50 states and Washington, D.C., asking officials to turn over “publicly-available voter roll data.”
However, the panel is also seeking sensitive information, including “dates of birth, political party (if recorded in your state), last four digits of social security number if available, voter history (elections voted in) from 2006 onward, active/inactive status, cancelled status, information regarding any felony convictions, information regarding voter registration in another state, information regarding military status, and overseas citizen information.”
The panel gave states two weeks to comply and said it would share the data with the public. The letter requests feedback from states with a series of questions, including citing instances of voter fraud, which experts have concluded is extremely rare.
Trump established the commission through an executive order and it is headed by Vice President Mike Pence. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, an immigration hardliner and strict voter identification law advocate, serves as vice chair and penned the letter.
Almost immediately, a number of states led by Democrats criticized and rejected the request, with some officials calling it a politically-motivated effort to satisfy Trump’s unfounded claims about rampant voter fraud during the 2016 election. The president has alleged without any evidence that millions of “illegal” votes cost him the popular vote to Hillary Clinton, who topped him by nearly 3 million votes.
“The president created his election commission based on the false notion that ‘voter fraud’ is a widespread issue — it is not,” said Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Grimes, a Democrat. “Kentucky will not aid a commission that is at best a waste of taxpayer money and at worst an attempt to legitimize voter suppression efforts across the country.”
At least five states — in which the officials involved with voter registration are all Democrats — said they would not comply at all and at least five other states have informed the commission that they would not provide any sensitive data, only publicly available data. Four of those states have Republican officials handling voter registration.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, said the state will not provide confidential information to the commission.
“…(V)oter registration information is a public record and is available online,” he said. “The confidential information, such as the last four digits of a voter’s Social Security number or their Ohio driver license number, is not publicly available and will not be provided to the Commission.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, tweeted Friday that his state will not comply with the request. “NY refuses to perpetuate the myth voter fraud played a role in our election,” Cuomo said.
Also flatly turning down the commission’s request for data were California, Virginia and Minnesota.
“The only irregularity in the 2016 presidential election centered around Russian tampering,” said Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, in a statement.
While officials in some states said they would partly honor the request but not share any protected voter information.