At least 44 states have refused to release sensitive voter data to President Trump’s election integrity commission, which recently requested the personal information of every voter in all 50 states. Although Trump claimed that he established the commission to end voter fraud, the president has never substantiated these allegations of massive voter fraud and is suspected of planning to use the information in order to influence future elections.
In a vain attempt to justify losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton, Trump signed Executive Order 13799, which appointed Vice President Mike Pence as head of the newly-established Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Instead of investigating Russian attempts to disrupt the U.S. presidential election last year, the commission has been tasked with preventing voter fraud after Trump repeatedly claimed without a shred of evidence that millions of people illegally voted for his opponent.
On June 28, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, vice chairman of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, sent a letter to all 50 states with requests for “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.”
A few days later, Trump took to Twitter and wrote, “Numerous states are refusing to give information to the very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL. What are they trying to hide?”
Responding to Kobach’s letter, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla replied in a statement: “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. I will not provide sensitive voter information to a commission that has already inaccurately passed judgment that millions of Californians voted illegally. California’s participation would only serve to legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud made by the President, the Vice President, and Mr. Kobach. The President’s Commission is a waste of taxpayer money and a distraction from the real threats to the integrity of our elections today: aging voting systems and documented Russian interference in our elections.
“The President’s appointment of Kobach–who has a long history of sponsoring discriminatory, anti-immigrant policies including voter suppression and racial profiling laws–sends a clear and ominous message. 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.”
“My reply would be: They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico, and Mississippi is a great State to launch from,” Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann wrote in a statement on Friday. “Mississippi residents should celebrate Independence Day and our State’s right to protect the privacy of our citizens by conducting our own electoral processes.”
According to a CNN inquiry, at least 44 states have refused to hand over voters’ personal data to the commission. As of Tuesday, Florida and Nebraska continue to review the commission’s request, while the Florida Senate issued a letter openly opposing the request. Hawaii and New Jersey have not publicly responded.
Although six states still have not received Kobach’s letter, four of the states – New Mexico, Michigan, South Carolina and West Virginia – have already refused the request. The other two states – Arkansas and Illinois – remain silent on the subject.
While refusing to disclose confidential voter data, Colorado, Missouri, and Tennessee agreed to send publicly available information while commending the commission for their self-proclaimed investigation into voter fraud. But as Trump has already begun fundraising at his Washington hotel for his next presidential campaign, many of the states are concerned that Trump will abuse the sensitive voter data by attempting to influence future elections.
According to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has recused himself from any investigations into Russian involvement with Trump’s campaign, the Justice Department has not conducted any investigations into Russian interference during last year’s election, leaving the country susceptible to further cyberattacks, propaganda, and other forms of coercion.
Instead of protecting the privacy of voters or the integrity of fair elections, Trump continues to waste time and resources on a fiction that he has failed to prove time and again.