By Christopher Ingraham
Donald Trump greeted Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach at Trump’s golf club in Bedminster Township, N.J., in November. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach co-chairs President Trump’s voter fraud commission, which is tasked with finding evidence to support the president’s unsubstantiated claim that there was widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election.
Kobach recently sent letters to all 50 states asking them to provide the commission with their entire voter files. The request specifically spelled out sensitive pieces of information the commission wants to obtain, including voters names, party affiliations, military status and the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers.
As secretary of state, Kobach is tasked with supplying Kansas’s data to the Trump commission. There’s just one problem: He won’t be able to fully comply with his own request.
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Kobach told the Kansas City Star on Friday that he would not be providing any parts of Kansas voters’ Social Security numbers because that data is not publicly available under state law. “In Kansas, the Social Security number is not publicly available,” he said. “Every state receives the same letter, but we’re not asking for it if it’s not publicly available.”
Many states have balked at all of part of the commission’s request, citing legal and privacy concerns or an unwillingness to cooperate with a commission that elections experts worry is laying the groundwork for voter roll purges.
Another secretary of state who’s a member of the Trump commission also said Friday that she is unable to comply with the request. Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson said in a statement that “Indiana law doesn’t permit the Secretary of State
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By Christopher Ingraham
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach talks in his Topeka, Kan., office on May 12, 2016. (Dave Kaup/Reuters)
President Trump’s Election Integrity Commission is asking all 50 states to turn over all publicly available voter registration data, including highly sensitive information about voters’ political affiliation, Social Security numbers, criminal history and military status.
Voting rights groups immediately pushed state governors to reject the request, saying it would put a massive trove of information in the hands of people who couldn’t be trusted with it. The request was initiated by commission co-chair Kris Kobach, the secretary of state in Kansas and a fervent believer that voter fraud is widespread despite decades of evidence to the contrary.
In Kansas, Kobach championed the use of Crosscheck, a multistate database of voter registration information that authorities use to check whether voters are registered in two states. The system works primarily by matching voters’ names and dates of birth — if the same name and date of birth show up for voters in two different states, the system flags them as possible double registrations.
Kobach has said he’s interested in using a similar process to compare state voter roll data to a federal database of legal immigrants, creating what Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, calls “Crosscheck on steroids.”
Researchers have found that Crosscheck’s matching algorithms are highly inaccurate. A recent working paper by researchers at Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard and Microsoft found that Crosscheck’s algorithm returns about 200 false positives for every one legitimate instance of double registration it finds.
“We’re concerned about unlawful voter purging, which has been something that Kris Kobach has been leading the charge,” said Vanita Gupta of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and former head of the Justice Department’s civil
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By Christopher Ingraham
The chair of President Trump’s Election Integrity Commission has penned a letter to all 50 states requesting their full voter-roll data, including the name, address, date of birth, party affiliation, last four Social Security number digits and voting history back to 2006 of potentially every voter in the state.
In the letter, a copy of which was made public by the Connecticut secretary of state, the commission head Kris Kobach said that “any documents that are submitted to the full Commission will also be made available to the public.”
On Wednesday, the office of Vice President Pence released a statement saying “a letter will be sent today to the 50 states and District of Columbia on behalf of the Commission requesting publicly available data from state voter rolls and feedback on how to improve election integrity.”
States began reacting to the letter on Thursday afternoon. “I have no intention of honoring this request,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe of Virginia in a statement. “Virginia conducts fair, honest, and democratic elections, and there is no evidence of significant voter fraud in Virginia.”
Connecticut’s Secretary of State, Denise Merrill, said she would “share publicly-available information with the Kobach Commission while ensuring that the privacy of voters is honored by withholding protected data.” She added, however, that Kobach “has a lengthy record of illegally disenfranchising eligible voters in Kansas” and that “given Secretary Kobach’s history we find it very difficult to have confidence in the work of this Commission.”
Under federal law, each state must maintain a central file of registered voters. States collect different amounts of information on voters. While the files are technically <a class="colorbox"
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