The Democratic ranking members of four House committees urged Vice President Mike Pence on Tuesday to dismiss Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach from the White House’s shady “election integrity” commission, of which Kobach is vice chair, and rescind the commission’s call for extensive voter information from all 50 states.
“[W]e write to express our grave concerns,” the Democrats wrote, regarding Kobach’s letter to all 50 states requesting sensitive voter information including the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers and potential criminal, military and overseas citizen records. “The request failed to specify to the public how that information would be used, and provided no clear or sufficient safeguards to protect sensitive voter information. These actions openly flout federal privacy and transparency laws.”
“Furthermore, Mr. Kobach has repeatedly claimed, falsely, that widespread voter fraud exists and advertises his work on the Commission to promote his own campaign for governor of Kansas,” they said.
The Democrats, Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), John Conyers (D-MI), Bennie Thompson (D-MS) and Robert Brady (D-PA) are ranking members of the Oversight and Government Reform, Judiciary, Homeland Security and House Administration committees, respectively.
The letter goes on for 11 pages, documenting Kobach’s past unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud and accusing him of using the election integrity commission as a stepping stone for Kansas’ 2018 gubernatorial race.
It also pins Kobach’s effort to establish his own independent multi-state database to fight voter fraud as an example of a solution in search of a problem. According to a Stanford University analysis of the program, the congressmen said, Kobach’s Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program produced “200 false positives for every actual double registration.”
The commission’s request for data, they wrote, “is unprecedented.”
And though a lawsuit from the privacy advocacy group EPIC has temporarily halted the flow of information from states to the commission, the letter asserted that Pence can’t definitively say data will be transferred and stored safely. SAFE, the military file transfer program Pence and Kobach said they would use to collect data from states, notes on its own website that it’s “only as secure as the email system” used to access it.
“Instead of building a highly insecure nationwide database, the Commission should focus its attention on providing guidance and best practices to secure America’s election infrastructure from foreign influence,” they wrote.
The Democrats also complained that the commission has not lived up to federal laws requiring transparency and proper record-keeping.
“The Commission should explore increasing access to voting, not perpetuating the false and damaging notion that massive voter fraud exists in our nation’s elections,” the letter concludes, before an extensive list of questions to which the congressmen ask for verbal and written responses. “We will fiercely oppose any attempt by this Administration to suppress the vote and undermine the protections guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, the National Voter Registration Act, the Voting Rights Act, and other important voter protection laws.”
Read the full letter below: