A Trump administration letter requesting data from all 50 state’s voting rolls has put some states and voting rights advocates on edge after many were already wary of the aims of the President’s commission on voting.
The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity’s vice chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, sent a letter to each state Wednesday asking a series of questions soliciting feedback about election administration, voter fraud and the integrity of the process. CNN obtained a copy of the letter sent to Maine’s secretary of state.
Kobach also requested that each state provide “publicly available voter roll data” as allowed under each state’s laws, which could include full names of registered voters, dates of birth, party registration, last four digits of Social Security numbers and voting history.
The letter was discussed on an organizational call of the commission, according to a White House readout and spokesman Marc Lotter.
* Several states have refused to comply and people have absolutely freaked out about this on social media today, particularly about the Social Security numbers stuff. One Democratic gubernatorial candidate here issued a press release about it…
“There is no evidence of voter fraud in Illinois. That’s a fact and not an alternative one this administration is using to peddle false voter fraud conspiracies,” said JB Pritzker. “The Kobach Commission is nothing short of a scam. The administration’s request for Illinois voter rolls is not just a waste of time and resources, it’s a violation of Illinoisan’s privacy. I urge Bruce Rauner to stand with the leaders of Virginia, California, and Kentucky and refuse to comply. It is past time for Rauner to protect Illinois families from Donald Trump’s lies, attacks, and nonsense.”
* Secretary of State Jesse White was apparently getting bombarded with so many inquiries that he took to Twitter to remind Illinoisans that he doesn’t oversee elections here…
* And that led to the Board of Elections getting swamped…
Illinois election officials on Friday acknowledged receiving calls of concern over information being sought by President Donald Trump’s Election Integrity Commission, but said they have yet to receive a formal request for the state’s voter data.
* But look at the Kobach letter which was received by Maine…
I am requesting that you provide to the Commission the publicly- available voter roll data for Maine, 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, 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.
Emphasis added. They don’t want anything that’s not already publicly available.
* Kobach’s own Secretary of State’s office in Kansas won’t even be fully complying…
Kobach said Friday that Kansas also won’t be sharing Social Security information with the commission, for which he serves as vice chairman, at this time. The state will share other information about the state’s registered voters, including names and addresses, which are subject to the state’s open record laws. […]
Other states, including Republican-led Oklahoma and Utah, announced plans to provide some information to the commission while withholding other pieces, such as the partial Social Security numbers.
“That’s perfectly fine,” Kobach said Friday when asked about states that would provide names but withhold other information. “We understand that. And that is entirely up to each state.”
* Back to the Tribune…
[The Kobach] letter hadn’t arrived yet in Illinois, where state elections board members are scheduled to meet Monday. They still could discuss the request for “publicly available data” the president’s commission is seeking. […]
Illinois law allows voter data to be obtained by political committees, which use them to develop their voter databases, and by governmental agencies for governmental purposes, such as for jury duty notices.
But Illinois law prevents the release of more personal information associated with the voter files, such as Social Security numbers, drivers’ license numbers or digital copies of voter signatures. [Emphasis added.]
So, most of your info won’t be shared and there’s no demand from Kobach that all of it has to be shared, either. Pritzker himself has probably already purchased the same voter info either from the Board of Elections or through Democratic list vendors, or his direct mail vendor did. It’s no more of a “violation of Illinoisan’s privacy” than what countless campaigns here have already done and will do in the future.
* Now, there’s no doubt that Kobach is hugely controversial…
The A.C.L.U. has filed four suits against Kobach since he was elected in 2010. All of them challenge some aspect of his signature piece of legislation, the Secure and Fair Elections Act, or SAFE Act, a 2011 state law that requires people to show a birth certificate, passport or naturalization papers to register to vote. Kobach has long argued that such a law is necessary to prevent noncitizens from registering to vote, a phenomenon that he has repeatedly claimed is both pervasive and a threat to democracy. The A.C.L.U. has countered that the real purpose of the law is not to prevent fraud but to stop the existing electorate from expanding and shifting demographically. The same principle informed the “grandfather clauses” of the Jim Crow era, which exempted most white voters from literacy tests and poll taxes designed to disenfranchise black voters. Even a seemingly small impediment to registration, like a new ID requirement, favors the status quo, and in Kansas, and indeed nationally, the status quo favors the Republican Party.
When Kris Kobach, Kansas’ aggressive secretary of state, convinced the state legislature to give him prosecutorial power to pursue voter fraud, he said it was necessary to root out tens of thousands of undocumented aliens who were voting as well as tens of thousands more who he claimed were voting in two states.
Two years later, Kobach has produced exactly nine convictions. Most of them were not illegal immigrants but rather older registered Republicans.
And the Kobach Commission is also hugely controversial. It looks like he put a bunch of vote-suppression types on it. Click here for that stuff. Whew.
Resisting this request is fine by me if that’s what states (including this one) want to do. The commission seems like a massive waste of time to me and may even have nefarious intent to find ways of suppressing votes.
* But some of your personal data is already being shared with campaigns. Keep that in mind when you take to social media to scream into the electronic wind.