III. Federal-State Updates
Presidential election commission seeks voter data
Last week, under the signature of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the White House commission on election integrity reached out to all 50 states and the District of Columbia seeking information about their voter rolls.
The letter requested states provide: names, addresses, birthday, political party, last four digits of the voter’s Social Security number and the voter’s voting record since 2006. The letter sought all publicly and legally available information from that list. States have until July 14 to provide the information.
Responses from the states were quick with most saying that would only comply on a limited basis—what is publicly and legally available—and some saying they would not comply at all. The response was bipartisan.
Civil rights advocates and cybersecurity experts have expressed alarm about the request.
“The bigger the purse, the more effort folks would spend to get at it,” said Joe Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a digital advocacy group told Politico. “And in this case, this is such a high-profile and not-so-competent tech operation that we're likely to see the hacktivists and pranksters take shots at it.”
Kobach issued a statement this week arguing that the media’s reporting of the state responses is inaccurate.
"Despite media distortions and obstruction by a handful of state politicians, this bipartisan commission on election integrity will continue its work to gather the facts through public records requests to ensure the integrity of each American's vote because the public has a right to know," he said in the statement.
Here is a list of how all the states and the District of Columbia have responded to the request for information to-date. Where available we have linked to press releases from the state’s chief elections official:
Alabama; Alaska; Arizona; Arkansas; California; Colorado; Connecticut; Delaware; District of Columbia; Florida; Georgia; Hawaii; Idaho; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Montana; Nebraska; Nevada; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New Mexico; New York; Ohio; Oklahoma; Oregon; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; North Carolina; South Carolina; North Dakota; South Dakota, Tennessee; Texas; Utah; Vermont; Virginia; Washington; West Virginia; Wisconsin and Wyoming
DOJ seeks information on NVRA compliance
Also last week, according to the Huffington Post and reports from other local papers, the U.S. Department of Justice sent letters to 44 states seeking information about how the states comply with the National Voter Registration Act.
The Post reports that former DOJ officials say that while there’s nothing notable about the information being requested, that the inquiry was sent to all states covered by NVRA is unusual.
“It is not normal for the Department of Justice to ask for voting data from all states covered by the National Voter Registration Act,” Vanita Gupta, former head of the DOJ’s civil rights division under President Obama told the Post. “It’s likely that this is instead the beginning of an effort to force unwarranted voter purges.”
Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman released the DOJ letter to the public and at a news conference said she is not concerned about the request.
“I am sure we can stand up to the scrutiny the Department of Justice can bring,” Wyman said according to The Seattle Times.