State officials from Kentucky, Virginia, and California said Thursday that they will refuse to turn over the personal data of voters to President Trump’s voter fraud commission after the vice chair of the commission sent a letter to all 50 states requesting the names, birthdays, Social Security numbers, and voting history of every person on their voter rolls.
In the letter, which was sent to the secretaries of state of all 50 states and was made public by the Connecticut secretary of state, the commission head Kris Kobach said that “any documents that are submitted to the full Commission will also be made available to the public.”
The letter directs the states to turn over “publicly-available voter roll data including, if publicly available under the laws of your state, the full first and last names of all registrants, middle names or initials if available, addresses, dates of birth, political party (if recorded in your state), last four digits of social security number if available, [and] voter history from 2006 onward.”
On Wednesday, the office of Vice President Pence released a statement saying “a letter will be sent today to the 50 states and District of Columbia on behalf of the Commission requesting publicly available data from state voter rolls and feedback on how to improve election integrity.”
“I have no intention of honoring this request,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe of Virginia in a statement. “Virginia conducts fair, honest, and democratic elections, and there is no evidence of significant voter fraud in Virginia.”Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) said in a statement that he has “no intention” of fulfilling the request, defending the fairness of his state’s elections. He also blasted the commission in his statement, saying it was based on the “false notion” of widespread voter fraud in the November presidential election.
He also denounced the commission in his statement, saying it was based on the “false notion” of widespread voter fraud in the November presidential election.
“At best this commission was set up as a pretext to validate Donald Trump’s alternative election facts, and at worst is a tool to commit large-scale voter suppression,” McAuliffe stated.
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla (D) joined McAuliffe in rejecting the request, saying “I will not provide sensitive voter information to a commission that has already inaccurately passed judgment that millions of Californians voted illegally” in the last election.
“California’s participation would only serve to legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud made by the President, Vice President, and [Kansas Secretary of State Kris] Kobach,” Padilla stated.
Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) also said she would refuse to submit the information requested by the panel.
“The president created his election commission based on the false notion that “voter fraud” is a widespread issue – it is not,” Grimes said in a statement Thursday.
“Indeed, despite bipartisan objections and a lack of authority, the President has repeatedly spread the lie that three to five million illegal votes were cast in the last election,” her statement continued. “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.”
The Post writes:
Under federal law, each state must maintain a central file of registered voters. States collect different amounts of information on voters. While the files are technically public records, states usually charge fees to individuals or entities who want to access them. Political campaigns and parties typically use these files to compile their massive voter lists.
In May, Trump created a commission to investigate alleged acts of voter fraud after he claimed, without evidence, that 3 million to 5 million undocumented immigrants voted illegally in the 2016 election. The commission is chaired by Kobach, who is the Kansas secretary of state and a voter-fraud hard-liner.
Earlier this month, a federal judge fined Kobach $1,000 for “presenting misleading arguments in a voting-related lawsuit,” according to Politico.
Advocates for voting rights and civil liberties are sounding the alarm over the concerning letter.
“The concern is that this is going to be used to justify regressive and disenfranchising federal law,” said Myrna Pérez, deputy director of the democracy program at New York University Law School’s Brennan Center for Justice.
Vanita Gupta, chief executive of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and former head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, said on Twitter that the letter is “laying the groundwork for voter suppression, plain & simple.”