President Trump’s dubious “election integrity” commission is stepping up its activity in a big way ahead of a first meeting scheduled for July: Kris Kobach (R-KS), the vice chair of the commission and architect of many laws making it more difficult to vote, sent letters Thursday to all 50 secretaries of state demanding they turn over all publicly-available data from their voter rolls.
The information Kobach requested of secretaries of state includes:
The full first and last names of all registrants, middle names or initials if available, addresses, dates of birth, political party (if recorded in your state), last four digits of social security number if available, voter history (elections voted in) from 2006 onward, active/inactive status, cancelled status, information regarding any felony convictions, information regarding voter registration in another state, information regarding military status, and overseas citizen information.
The commission’s self-described mission focuses heavily on voter fraud, despite the fact that study after study has found that voter fraud is an extremely rare occurrence. Though the group’s goals ostensibly include “preventing voter intimidation or disenfranchisement,” the officials tapped to lead the effort have a long history of promoting policies that disenfranchise many eligible voters.
Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill (D), who released the copy of Kobach’s letter sent to her, issued a statement saying that, while they’ll be turning over the data, they’ll also be requesting from Kobach’s commission “any memos, meeting minutes or additional information as state officials have not been told precisely what the Commission is looking for.”
“This lack of openness is all the more concerning, considering that the Vice Chair of the Commission, Kris Kobach, has a lengthy record of illegally disenfranchising eligible voters in Kansas,” Merrill said. “The courts have repudiated his methods on multiple occasions but often after the damage has been done to voters. Given Secretary Kobach’s history we find it very difficult to have confidence in the work of this Commission.”
Read Kobach’s letter to Merrill below:
Update: This story has been updated to include a statement from Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill.
Alice Ollstein is a reporter at Talking Points Memo, covering national politics. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been reporting in DC ever since, covering the Supreme Court, Congress and national elections for TV, radio, print, and online outlets. Her work has aired on Free Speech Radio News, All Things Considered, Channel News Asia, and Telesur, and her writing has been published by The Atlantic, La Opinión, and The Hill Rag. She was elected in 2016 as an at-large board member of the DC Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Alice grew up in Santa Monica, California and began working for local newspapers in her early teens.