There’s bipartisan blowback against giving detailed voter information to President Donald Trump’s new voter fraud commission – and for many very good reasons.
So far, 45 states and counting have rejected at least part of the data request, or are refusing to comply altogether with this Orwellian overreach.
The basis for the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is suspect at best. There’s no evidence of widespread voter fraud, and as The Bee’s editorial board and others have pointed out, there’s certainly nothing to back up Trump’s baseless claim that he would have won the popular vote in 2016 if not for millions of illegally cast votes. There weren’t millions of votes cast illegally.
Plus, we’d take Trump’s supposed concern for “election integrity” much more seriously if he would finally acknowledge the extent of Russian interference in the 2016 election and showed at least a little interest in making sure it doesn’t happen again.
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Democrats are rightly concerned that the presidential commission is a stalking horse to justify stricter voter ID and other requirements. Alex Padilla, California’s secretary of state, said in a statement that “the ultimate goal of the commission is to enact policies that will result in the disenfranchisement of American citizens.”
“I will not provide sensitive voter information to a commission that has already inaccurately passed judgment that millions of Californians voted illegally,” he added. “California’s participation would only serve to legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud.”
It isn’t just Democrats who are pushing back.
Some Republican election officials say they want to protect the privacy of their citizens. Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann responded this way: “They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great state to launch from.”
Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler, also a Republican, replied that “you’re not going to play politics with Louisiana’s voter data, and if you are, then you can purchase the limited public information available by law, to any candidate running for office. That’s it. “
Another big worry is the risk of putting so much sensitive information – voters’ full names, addresses, birth dates, political party, any felony record, voting history and the last four digits of Social Security numbers – in one place.
Cybersecurity experts say such a data repository could be a gold mine for hackers – those interested in identity theft and those wanting to disrupt our elections. A UC Berkeley computer science professor called the idea “beyond stupid.”
Even the way that states are supposed to submit the data – a White House email address and a Pentagon-run file hosting service – aren’t secure enough, experts say.
The request came in a letter last week to all 50 states seeking all publicly available voter information by July 14. It came from Kris Kobach, the controversial Republican secretary of state in Kansas who is the commission’s vice-chairman (Vice President Mike Pence is chairman) and who recently announced he’s running for governor of that state in 2018.
In response to the non-cooperation by state officials, Trump took to Twitter to question what they’re trying to hide. Yet even Kobach said his office won’t provide all the requested information because Social Security numbers aren’t publicly available.
The bottom line is, this voter fraud crusade by Trump is no more legitimate than his “birther” effort to discredit Barack Obama.