Multiple states reject request from Trump’s voter fraud commission to provide voter roll data
Officials in at least five states say they will reject a request by President Trump’s voter fraud commission to turn over all publicly available voter roll data.
By late Thursday evening California, Kentucky, Virginia, Massachusetts and Connecticut signaled resistance to the request citing concerns over privacy, politics and one of the commission’s top officials.
In a letter sent Wednesday to all 50 secretaries of state, the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity’s vice chairman — Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach — requests the full names of all registered voters, their addresses, dates of birth, the last four digits of their Social Security numbers, voting history and other personal information.
The letter says that any documents submitted to the commission will also be made available to the public.
Alex Padilla, California’s Democratic secretary of state, was the first to object to the request, releasing a statement Thursday vowing that he will “not provide sensitive voter information” to a commission that is pursuing “debunked claims of massive voter fraud.”
“As secretary of state, it is my duty to ensure the integrity of our elections and to protect the voting rights and privacy of our state’s voters,” Padilla said. “I will not provide sensitive voter information to a commission that has already inaccurately passed judgement that millions of Californians voted illegally. California’s participation would only to legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud made by the president, the vice president, and Mr. Kobach.”
Padilla went on to call the commission a “waste of taxpayer money” and a “distraction from the real threats of the integrity of our elections today,” which he considers to be Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign.
Kentucky’s Democratic secretary of state, Alison Lundergan Grimes, said that she too will decline providing voting data to Trump’s commission. “The president created his election commission based on the false notion that voter fraud is a widespread issue — it is not,” Lundergan Grimes said. “Kentucky will not aid a commission that is at best a waste of taxpayer money and at worst an effort to legitimize voter suppression efforts across the country.”
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, called the commission “politically motivated and silly” and said his state would not comply. “I have no intention of honoring this request,” he said.
Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin, also a Democrat, refused to give voting information for a different reason. “They’re not going to get it,” said Brian McNiff, a spokesman for Galvin. “It’s not a public record.” Massachusetts law specifies that the voter data “shall not be a public record.”
Connecticut’s secretary of state, Denise Merrill, took a more nuanced position. Merill, a Democrat, said she would “share publicly-available information with the Kobach Commission while ensuring that the privacy of voters is honored by withholding protected data.” However, she took special exception to Kobach making the request, who she says “has a lengthy record of illegally disenfranchising eligible voters in Kansas.”
Kobach, a conservative candidate for Kansas governor in 2018, is a leading proponent of strict voter-identification laws. He has helped design some of the toughest voting laws in the country, which Democrats and civil rights groups allege are meant to restrict voting access to minority groups.
The ACLU has filed four lawsuits against Kobach since he was elected Kansas secretary of state in 2010.
Last week, a federal judge fined Kobach $1,000 “for presenting misleading arguments in a voting-related lawsuit,” according to Politico .
The in-person voter fraud targeted by Kobach is historically rare.
A 2014 study by Justin Levitt looking at in-person voter fraud found there to be 31 instances out of more than 1 billion ballots cast in local, state, and national elections over 14 years.
Despite this evidence, Trump in May created the voter fraud commission after making an unsubstantiated claim that millions of illegal immigrants voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, and prevented him from winning the popular vote.
The commission, led by Vice President Mike Pence and Kobach, is charged with investigating voter fraud and issuing recommendations to prevent it.
It will have its first meeting July 19 in Washington, D.C.