Arkansas officials will not provide all the voter information requested by a federal advisory commission created by President Donald Trump to investigate his allegation of millions of illegal votes in the 2016 general election.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, vice chair along with Vice President Mike Pence of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, sent a letter to all 50 states and the District of Columbia asking for detailed voter information records, including Social Security numbers and other personal data. Information sought in the letter, which sets a July 14 deadline, includes addresses, birth dates, partial Social Security numbers, party affiliation, and criminal records.
The commission was established May 11 by executive order. The commission’s goal is to “study the registration and voting processes used in Federal elections.” The commission is tasked to provide a report to the President that addresses three primary areas:
• Laws, rules, policies, activities, strategies, and practices that enhance the American people’s confidence in the integrity of the voting processes used in Federal elections;
• Laws, rules, policies, activities, strategies, and practices that undermine the American people’s confidence in the integrity of the voting processes used in Federal elections; and
• Vulnerabilities in voting systems and practices used for Federal elections that could lead to improper voter registrations and improper voting, including fraudulent voter registrations and fraudulent voting.
Kobach has said the panel would use the voter information data to compare against federal databases – like the Social Security Administration – to update voter rolls.
“We have lots of people making claims on both sides about fraudulent voting in the name of dead people,” Kobach said in an NPR interview. “Well, let’s just use the federal databases and find out how big a problem it is.”
But Gov. Asa Hutchinson, like a growing number of his counterparts, said the federal request is “too broad.”
“I have spoken with Secretary of State Mark Martin and recommended that our state not provide all the voter information requested by the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. The request is simply too broad and includes sensitive information of Arkansas voters. The Secretary has indicated that he will not provide Arkansas voters’ most sensitive data,” the Governor noted in a statement. “While we remain committed to ensuring the integrity of and confidence in our electoral process, providing all of the information requested is not in the best interest of Arkansas voters. I continue to have confidence in the Secretary of State’s efforts to ensure that Arkansas’ elections are free and fair.”
According to Martin’s office, Arkansas will provide data requested with the exception of Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, felony convictions or military status.
As of Wednesday afternoon, several reports suggested that more than 45 states refused to provide any or all of the data requested. Delbert Hosemann, a Republican and Mississippi’s Secretary of State, had a more blunt response to the request.
“They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great State to launch from.”
The Kansas City Star reported that even Kobach’s office is prevented by state law from providing certain information, such as Social Security numbers, to the federal panel on which Kobach is a vice chair.
Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergran Grimes, a Democrat, said her state would provide no information to the federal panel.
“I do not intend to release Kentuckians’ sensitive personal data to the federal government,” Grimes said in a written statement. “The president created his election commission based on the false notion that ‘voter fraud’ is a widespread issue — it is not.”