The White House is pushing back at media reports saying dozens of
states are refusing to hand over voters’ private data.
Kris Kobach, the vice chairman of the Presidential Advisory
Commission on Election Integrity, said in a statement on
Wednesday that 36 states had “either agreed or are considering”
complying with the commission’s request, which included providing
it with voters’ names, addresses, birthdays, political parties,
last four Social Security number digits, and election
“While there are news reports that 44 states have ‘refused’ to
provide voter information to the Commission, these reports are
patently false, more ‘fake news,'” the statement, issued on
letterhead from the office of Vice President Mike Pence, said.
Pence is the commission’s chairman.
“Despite media distortions and obstruction by a handful of state
politicians, this bipartisan commission on election integrity
will continue its work to gather the facts through public records
requests to ensure the integrity of each American’s vote because
the public has a right to know.”
The voting commission’s request, sent to officials in all 50
states last week, specified to turn over only information that
was publicly available.
Still, the request
alarmed election officials across the US, and several states
said they would not comply. According to The Nation’s
count, 20 states have refused to turn over any data, with
some officials citing privacy concerns. Others accused the White
House of using the panel to lend credence to President Donald
Trump’s baseless claim that millions of illegal votes were cast
in last year’s election.
Pence seemed to arrive at his count of 36 states by combining
states that agreed to turn over some publicly available
information with states that had not responded to the request.
States that refused to provide the data span the political
spectrum, from Alabama to California. Maryland’s attorney
general, Brian Frosh, said the commission’s request was “designed
only to intimidate voters and to indulge President Trump’s
fantasy that he won the popular vote.” And Kentucky’s secretary
of state, Alison Lundergan Grimes, said, “There’s not enough
bourbon here in Kentucky to make this request seem sensible.”