CBS Local — Forty-four states and the District of Columbia have refused to provide certain voter information to President Donald Trump’s election integrity commission, CNN reported.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, vice chairman of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, sent a letter to all 50 states last Wednesday requesting voter information, including names, addresses, birth dates, the last four digits of Social Security numbers, felony convictions, voting history through 2006, party affiliation and multi-state voter registration.
All documents submitted to the commission will be made available to the public, Kobach said in the letter.
The order arrived months after Trump claimed without evidence that millions had voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election.
Since receiving Kobach’s letter, multiple secretaries of state criticized the commission and accused it of seeking to legitimize Trump’s speculation that nationwide voter fraud cost him votes.
“First of all, the commission is not to prove or disprove what the President speculated about in January,” Kobach told The Kansas City Star. “The purpose of the commission is to find facts and put them on the table. Importantly, it’s a bipartisan commission.”
The letter twice requests only “public” voter information, and Kobach later told The Kansas City Star that the commission, which is chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, is not seeking information that is not publicly available.
But the commissions appears to have misunderstood nationwide privacy laws. All states that responded to Kobach said they could not provide Social Security numbers, and some said they consider voter birth dates and party affiliations to be private.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Florida and Nebraska have said they are still reviewing the commission’s request, and Hawaii and New Jersey have not commented after receiving it.
Six states have not received the request yet, but New Mexico, Michigan, South Carolina and West Virginia have already pledged not to honor it. The remaining two of those six states, Arkansas and Illinois, have not issues statements yet.
Only Colorado, Missouri and Tennessee have praised Kobach’s efforts to investigate voter fraud in their respective statements.
“We are very glad they are asking for information before making decisions,” said Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, a Republican. “I wish more federal agencies would ask folks for their opinion and for information before they made decisions.”
On the contrary, 19 states openly criticized the commission’s information request. Three state leaders questioned the integrity of the commission itself, and many more have questioned Trump’s claim of widespread voter fraud.
“Given Sec. Kobach’s history we find it very difficult to have confidence in the work of this Commission,” Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill, a Democrat, said in a statement Thursday. She also highlighted to what she alleged was Kobach’s “lengthy record of illegally disenfranchising eligible voters in Kansas.”
When states began to raise concerns about the legality of the Trump administration’s efforts to investigate voter fraud, the president questioned whether his critics were hiding something.
“Numerous states are refusing to give information to the very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL. What are they trying to hide?” Trump tweeted.
Trump created the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity through an executive order in May.