Kobach Asks States For Voter Data, And Some States Say 'No'
Officials from multiple states say they will not turn over voter data requested by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
This week, Kobach sent letters to all 50 states requesting their "publicly available voter roll data" to help with the work of a presidential commission on "election integrity" established earlier this year.
Kobach, who is running as a Republican for governor of Kansas, is vice chairman of the commission. Kobach advised President Trump on immigration issues during the presidential campaign and has gained national notoriety for his unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud.
A copy of Kobach's letter made public by the Connecticut secretary of state Thursday asks that state to provide the commission with voter roll data, including "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 numbers if available, voter history (elections voted in) from 2006 onward."
Kansas is one of the states that will only partially comply with the request. Kobach told the Kansas City Star that Social Security numbers are not publicly available in Kansas. "Every state receives the same letter but we're not asking for it if it's not publicly available," Kobach said.
By Friday morning, Democratic officials in a handful of states had responded, saying they would not hand over their voter data.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia issued a statement saying, "I have no intention of honoring this request."
He goes on: "This entire commission is based on the specious and false notion that there was widespread voter fraud last November."
Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes issued a similarly worded statement on her Twitter account Thursday night:
"I do not intend to release Kentuckians' sensitive personal data to the fed. gov't." — Sec. Grimes— Secretary of State Alison L. Grimes (2012–2020) (@KySecofState) June 30, 2017
Statement on Pres. Commission request: pic.twitter.com/9Js05x99eF
Maybe the strongest response came from California Secretary of State Alex Padilla.
"I will not provide sensitive voter information to a commission that has already inaccurately passed judgment that millions of Californians voted illegally," he said in a statement.
That may be a reference to President Trump's claim, repeated in the weeks after the election with no evidence, that millions of noncitizens voted, helping sway the popular vote to Hillary Clinton.
"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 Mr. Kobach," Padilla said.
Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill said in a statement her office would share "publicly available information" with the commission. But she went on to criticize Kobach, saying he has "lengthy record of illegally disenfranchising eligible voters in Kansas."
Kyle Palmer is KCUR morning newscaster.