The biggest headline this week on President Donald Trump’s election integrity commission is that 44 states plus DC have partly or fully rejected the commission’s request for a broad array of personal voter data if it is publicly available per state law.
From the headlines alone, this seems like a major, bipartisan rejection of the commission’s request for personal voter data. Except, the headlines are a bit misleading.
Here is what you need to know:
Last week, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach — who is vice chair of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity — sent a letter to every secretary of state in the US requesting publicly available data on everyone registered to vote in their state.
This information requested includes: Full names of every registered voter, addresses, dates of birth, political party (if available), last four digits of social security numbers, voting history dating back to 2006, active/inactive status, cancelled status, felony convictions, and more.
But the letter Kobach sent explicitly requested only the information that state law says is publicly available.
Over a dozen states have completely pushed back against Kobach’s request.
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, for instance, said: “California’s participation would only serve to legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud made by the President, the Vice President, and Mr. Kobach.”
That is far from 44 states. To be fair, the actual articles break the number down into specifics, but some bury the actual numbers or don’t quite get them right. Headlines are also everything in online publishing. Many people don’t click past the headline when scanning their social media feeds.
Kobach rebuked the news reports citing the 44 number, saying that 20 states have agreed to comply, 16 are reviewing what information they can give the commission, and 14 states plus DC have completely rejected the request.
AP says Kobach’s numbers are consistent with their own count.
“The AP’s own review has found that 26 states have said they will provide the commission with some information, but that parts of what was requested are not considered public information and would not be forwarded to the commission,” the AP reports.
“The AP’s count is consistent with Kobach’s in finding that 14 states and Washington, D.C., have said they won’t comply at all. Some officials have cited citizens’ privacy, while others, including the secretaries of state in California and Kentucky, have said they object to the premise that there was widespread voter fraud in last year’s election.”
The states that have denied the request include Arizona, California, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wyoming.
Most states have indicated that they will give the information their state allows them to give or will fully comply with the broad data request.