Tennessee secretary of state: Trump's election integrity panel can't have personal voter data

Tennessee secretary of state: Trump's election integrity panel can't have personal voter data

June 30th, 2017 by Andy Sher in Politics State

Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett speaks at a news conference Tuesday, May 19, 2015, in Knoxville. (Michael Patrick/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP)

Photo by Michael Patrick/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP

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NASHVILLE — Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett said today his office legally can't agree to a request from President Donald Trump's commission on election integrity to provide personal information about voters.

"Although I appreciate the commission's mission to address election-related issues, like voter fraud, Tennessee state law does not allow my office to release the voter information requested to the federal commission," Hargett, a Republican, said in a statement. 

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Republican, is serving as vice chairman of Trump's recently created Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

In a letter sent Wednesday to election officials across the country, Kobach asked for their recommendations on any changes in federal law in areas like ensuring integrity of elections.

But Kobach also said that "for the Commission to fully analyze vulnerabilities and issues related to voter registration and voting, I am requesting that you provide to the Commission the publicly available voter roll data for Tennessee, including, if publicly available under the laws of your state" information voters' full first and last names, middle names or initials, addresses, dates of birth, political party and last four digits of voters' Social Security numbers.

The letter also says documents submitted to the commission "will also be made available to the public." States were given a deadline of July 14 to submit the info to the commission.

Kobach's letter also asks states to respond to a list of questions about voting in their states, inquiring about "law, policies or other issues hinder your ability to ensure the integrity of elections you administer." 

Another request: Kobach asks for information about "convictions for election-related crimes" since the November 2000 presidential election.

The Washington Post reported that 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." 

But she went on to charge 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."

The Hill, an online magazine focused on D.C. politics, reported Friday afternoon that officials in more than 10 states have announced they won't turn over all voter roll data to President Trump's commission on voter fraud.

"As of Friday afternoon, officials in New York, California, Massachusetts, Kentucky and Virginia had said they would not turn over any of their voter data to the voter fraud commission," The Hill reported.

It said officials in Connecticut, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Vermont, Utah, North Carolina, Indiana and Iowa said they would only turn over public information on voter rolls, but wouldn't share private information.