July 1, 2017

More than a dozen states reject Trump commissionn's demand for voter data

NPR- More than a dozen states said that they would not, or could not, give a White House commission looking into voter fraud detailed voter registration data as requested.

The request came in a letter  to all 50 states from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is vice chair of the new Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. President Trump established the commission after he alleged, without providing evidence, that as many as five million people voted illegally last November. The panel — headed by Vice President Mike Pence — has been charged with looking into voting problems and recommending ways to improve public confidence in elections.

The letter asks each state to send the panel all publicly available voter registration information by July 14, including the names, addresses, birth dates, partial Social Security numbers, party affiliation, felon status and other data for every registered voter in the country.

Several states said they would not comply because of concerns about the panel's motives and how the information would be used.

"New York refuses to perpetuate the myth voter fraud played a role in our election," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. "We will not be complying with this request and I encourage the Election Commission to work on issues of vital importance to voters, including ballot access, rather than focus on debunked theories of voter fraud."

In an interview with NPR's All Things Considered host Ari Shapiro, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said she too would not comply because of her concerns about how the data would be secured.

Kobach said the panel would like to compare the state rolls against federal Social Security Administration and citizenship databases to see if there are those on the rolls who have died or are non-citizens, and if anyone voted in their names.

Many experts say the problem with comparing such databases is that it often leads to mismatches because of inaccuracies or differences in how names are listed. Some voting rights groups worry that it could lead to legitimate voters being purged from the rolls, even though Kobach noted that the federal panel would have no authority to do that.

In his statement announcing refusal to comply with the request, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, a Democrat, noted that Kobach has a history of pushing tough voter requirements, which opponents say can hurt minority voters. "His role as vice chair is proof that the ultimate goal of the commission is to enact policies that will result in the disenfranchisement of American citizens," Padilla said.

Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, also a Republican, said he had yet to receive the commission's request but that his reply to such a request would be: "They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great State to launch from." He cited the need to protect the privacy of state citizens "by conducting our own electoral processes."

Washington Post- Kobach told the Kansas City Star on Friday that he would not be providing any parts of Kansas voters' Social Security numbers because that data is not publicly available under state law. "In Kansas, the Social Security number is not publicly available," he said. "Every state receives the same letter, but we’re not asking for it if it’s not publicly available."

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