- Fifteen states are refusing to hand over voter data to President Donald Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.
- States attorneys general who refused balked at the commission’s original request for information including partial Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses and voting history.
- The commission is tasked with investigating voter fraud, even though scientific research has shown it is extremely rare.
More than a dozen states still refuse to release detailed voter data to President Donald Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which is investigating voter fraud.
The commission has stirred controversy from the moment it was established last spring. Critics say Trump is using it to find support for his unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud that cost him the popular vote during the 2016 election. Democrat Hillary Clinton received 2.8 million more votes nationwide than Trump.
All states that have agreed to comply are withholding some details the commission sought and are releasing only information considered public under state law. The commission sent one request in late June and another in July after a court said the data collection could move ahead.
While there have been isolated cases of voter fraud in the US, there is no evidence of it being a widespread problem, as Trump suggests.
Critics argue the commission is stacked with people who favor voting restrictions, rather than those who want to expand access, and that the commission has a predetermined agenda that will result in recommendations making it more difficult for people to register to vote, stay registered and cast ballots.
Its first significant action was to request a wide range of information about all registered voters in every state, including partial Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses and voting history. The commission scaled back its response after stinging criticism.
A tally by Associated Press reporters nationwide shows that 15 states denied the request, raising questions about how useful the information will be. Here is how every state responded:
Secretary of State John Merrill, a Republican, said the commission can buy the information at a cost of more than $32,000. And it will exclude information such as Social Security and driver’s license numbers.
Josie Bahnke, director of the state Division of Elections, said the commission paid the $21 that is standard for these types of request for publicly available voter data. The information was sent to the commission in September.
Matt Roberts, spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office, said in early October that the office has yet to receive a formal request from the commission for the data.
“In the secretary’s mind, we haven’t responded because we haven’t received anything that remotely resembles a formal public records request, nor the accompanying payment for said voter registration records,” Roberts said. He would not speculate on how the secretary would respond to such a request.