2 states say no to Trump commission request for voter info; Washington state mulls request
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s commission investigating alleged voter fraud in the 2016 elections has asked states for a list of the names, party affiliations, addresses and voting histories of all voters, if state law allows it to be public.
A Wednesday letter from the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity gives secretaries of state about two weeks to provide about a dozen points of voter data. That also would include dates of birth, the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers and any information about felony convictions and military status.
Some Democratic officials refused to comply, saying the request invades privacy and is based on false claims of fraud.
Trump lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton but has alleged, without evidence, that 3 to 5 million people voted illegally. In addition to the voter information, the letter asks state officials for suggestions on improving election integrity and to share any evidence of fraud and election-related crimes in their states.
The data will help the commission “fully analyze vulnerabilities and issues related to voter registration and voting,” vice chairman and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach wrote.
On Thursday, California’s secretary of state and Virginia’s governor, both Democrats, responded that they will not share the information and that attention would be better spent upgrading aging voting systems or focusing on Russia’s alleged election meddling. Trump has alleged “serious voter fraud” in both states.
“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.
Clinton won California by about 3 million votes.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said there is no evidence of voter fraud in the state.
“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,” he said in a statement.
In Olympia, Washington state Secretary of State Kim Wyman — a Republican — took a wait-and-see attitude. She issued this statement:
“As with any request for public records, we are required to comply pursuant to state law regardless of who is making the request. However, as we’ve only just received the letter from the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, it will take some time to review and thoughtfully consider the other requests made of us.
“Next week I’ll be attending the National Association of Secretaries of State’s summer meeting and will have the opportunity for a rigorous discussion about these matters. I look forward to hearing from my colleagues and will be in a better position at that time to consider the commission’s additional requests.”
Trump created the commission through an executive order in May.
The panel is seeking “public information and publicly available data” from every state and the District of Columbia, said Marc Lotter, a spokesman for Vice President Mike Pence, who is chairing the commission. Lotter described the intent of the request as “fact-finding” and said there were no objections to it by anyone on the 10-member commission, which includes four Democrats.
Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, a Democrat, said he is not sure whether he will share the data because of privacy concerns. Vermont’s top election official, Democrat Jim Condos, said it goes beyond what the state can publicly disclose.
In Missouri, Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft said he is happy to “offer our support in the collective effort to enhance the American people’s confidence in the integrity of the system.” Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, a Republican, said he’ll provide what state law allows.