You may have heard that President Trump’s new Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is asking state election officials to turn over a raft of very personal data about voters’ records. Not surprisingly, some states are reluctant to provide this information, and the Secretary of State for Mississippi has a very direct response for the administration.
Mississippi’s Delbert Hosemann said on Friday that his office had not yet actually received the Commission’s request for voter data, but that he’d seen the text of the request sent to election officials in other states. According to Hosemann, it seeks — if the law allows it:
• Full first and last names of all registered voters
• Middle names or initials if available,
• Their addresses
• Dates of birth
• Political party (if known)
• Last four digits of Social Security number (if available)
• Voter history for every election since 2006
• Plus “information regarding any felony convictions, information regarding voter registration in another state, information regarding military status, and overseas citizen information.”
This just isn’t going to happen in Mississippi, said Hosemann.
“They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great State to launch from,” he writes. “Mississippi residents should celebrate Independence Day and our State’s right to protect the privacy of our citizens by conducting our own electoral processes.”
Across state lines in Alabama, Secretary of State John Merrill said the state will oblige the Commission’s request, but only with regard to data that is already publicly available, “if we are convinced that the overall effort will produce the necessary results to accomplish the Commission’s stated goal without compromising the integrity of the voter rolls and the elections process in Alabama.”
Some other Republican secretaries of state have similarly said they intend on complying with Kobach’s request, including states not traditionally considered “red” states. Colorado’s Wayne Williams contends that there is no problem providing this information, as it’s all publicly available. In Washington state, Secy. Kim Wyman said that “As with any request for public records, we are required to comply pursuant to state law regardless of who is making the request.”
Hosemann is certainly not alone in denouncing the Commission’s request. In Virginia, Gov. McAuliffe said he has “no intention” of complying.
“This entire commission is based on the specious and false notion that there was widespread voter fraud last November,” said McAuliffe. “At best this commission was set up as a pretext to validate Donald Trumps alternative election facts, and at worst it is a tool to commit large-scale voter oppression.”
Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, where Trump narrowly claimed victory in 2016, responded in a letter [PDF] to Kris Kobach, the former Kansas Secretary of State and Vice Chairman of this new Commission. In the letter, Wolf raises concerns about privacy, data security, legal authority, and the White House’s intentions, pointing out the fact that then-candidate Trump made repeated, widely disproven claims of rampant voter fraud in parts of Pennsylvania.
“I have grave concerns your request is a mere pretense for pursuing restrictions on the fundamental rights of citizens to vote,” writes Wolf. “I have no interest in contributing to any effort to suppress the right to vote or create unnecessary or unfair burdens on voters.”
The Washington Post notes that, as of Friday evening, at least 25 states had already said they do not intend to comply with the Kobach request.