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Bridging The Gap
'What are they trying to hide?' Trump slams election officials over voter data request
  Saturday 01 July, 2017
\'What are they trying to hide?\' Trump slams election officials over voter data request

WASHINGTON — President Trump Saturday lashed out at state election officials who have pushed back against a request from his administration to hand over detailed information about their voters, including birth dates, parts of Social Security numbers and voting histories.

Trump, in a tweet, accused the officials of having something to hide.

State election officials in a most states have said they won't comply, or can only partially comply, with the request.

Those objecting include Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, a member of Trump's commission which is headed by Vice President Pence of Indiana.

Lawson said Friday state law prevents her from turning over all of the requested information.

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, a Republican, said the state would require the commission to file a formal request and will not release personal information about voters.

The office of Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler, a Republican, said lawyers are reviewing the letter to determine how the state will respond.

“Our priority, as we’ve demonstrated in the past, will always be to protect voter’s protected, personal information,” said Meg Casper Sunstrom, a spokeswoman for Schedler, former head of the National Association of Secretaries of State. “This includes Social Security numbers, mother’s maiden name and date of birth … Voter lists are publicly available, but only include limited information including voter history. Voter history is not how a voter cast their ballot, it’s whether they participated.”

Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, also a Republican, said he hasn't received the letter yet, but he's not giving up voter information.

"My reply would be: They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great state to launch from," he said. "Mississippi residents should celebrate Independence Day and our state’s right to protect the privacy of our citizens by conducting our own electoral processes.”

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted said Friday that his state will not provide the commission with the last four digits of Ohioans' Social Security numbers or their state driver's license IDs.

Husted, a Republican who is running for governor, said fraud is rare, and "We do not want any federal intervention in our state's right and responsibility to conduct elections."

Michael Haas, administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, said that under state law, "most of the information in Wisconsin’s voter registration system is public and is available for purchase, and is commonly purchased by political parties, candidates, researchers and other organizations." Haas pointed out that the fee is $12,500 for the statewide file, and "Wisconsin law does not contain any provision for waiving the fee for voter data.”

Connecticut Secretary of Denise Merrill, a Democrat, said Thursday that “in the spirit of transparency” the state will only provide publicly available information about voters, but not any information that is protected.

“In the same spirit of transparency, we will request that the commission share any memos, meeting minutes or additional information as state officials have not been told precisely what the commission is looking for,” she said in a statement.

White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the move by state officials to block the data release a “political stunt.”

“This is a commission that’s looking for publicly available data,” she said. She said no one on the bipartisan commission had raised any objections to requesting the data.

Trump set up the commission in May to study his allegations of widespread voter fraud in last year's presidential election. The 15-member bipartisan Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is set to hold its first meeting July 19.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the commission’s vice chairman, sent a letter to election officials in 50 states and the District of Columbia on Wednesday requesting data, including voter information. Kobach has a long history of promoting allegations of voter fraud and pushing for tighter restrictions on voting.

Kobach asked state officials for publicly available voter roll data, including names, addresses, dates of birth, political party, the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers, voter history and other information.

He also asked officials for their recommendations to improve the integrity of federal elections and prevent voter intimidation and disenfranchisement.

Kobach also requested information officials had on voter fraud or registration fraud in their states and convictions of election-related crimes since the 2000 federal election. He asked for the information by July 14.

Kobach told The Kansas City Star on Friday that he won't even provide the commission with the Social Security numbers of voters in his state, but he will share other information.

“In Kansas, the Social Security number is not publicly available. … Every state receives the same letter but we’re not asking for it if it’s not publicly available,” Kobach told The Star.

Pence, the chairman of the commission, hosted a call Wednesday with members.

"The integrity of the vote is a foundation of our democracy,’’ said Pence, according to a White House statement. “This bipartisan commission will review ways to strengthen that integrity in order to protect and preserve the principle of one person, one vote.”

Source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/06/30/election-officials-concerned-request-trump-group-voter-info/443388001/

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