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Trump panel will ask objecting states only for public vote data

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on June 30,

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on June 30, 2017, that New York State would not comply with the request for voter data by the voter integrity commission created by President Donald Trump to examine what he said were millions of fraudulent voters in the 2016 election. Photo Credit: AFP / Getty Images / Mehahem Kahan

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s election integrity commission will make public records requests to obtain voter data from the states that have refused to turn over that information, the commission’s vice chair said Wednesday.

Fourteen states and the District of Columbia have turned down the June 28 request by the commission and another 16 states are reviewing what information they can release under their laws, said Kris Kobach, the commission vice chair and Kansas secretary of state.

A total of 20 states have agreed to provide publicly available information, Kobach said in a statement to push back on news reports that “44 states” have refused to provide voter information, saying that “these reports are patently false.”

The commission requested extensive information on voters, including the last four digits of their Social Security numbers, their date of birth, their voting history for the past 10 years and whether they have criminal records.

Most states complying with the request said they will not include Social Security digits or other sensitive or private personal information they do not routinely make public, turning over less information than the commission is seeking.

New York and other states refused to cooperate because they said they object to the purpose and political nature of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which Trump set up to investigate his claim that 3 to 5 million people voted illegally last year.

“New York refuses to perpetuate the myth voter fraud played a role in our election,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Friday. “We will not be complying with this request.”

The most vehement refusal to cooperate came from Delbert Hosemann, Mississippi’s secretary of state: “They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great state to launch from.”

Kobach said, “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.”

That means commission staff will file freedom of information requests, including a documents request to New York State under the Freedom of Information Law. That process can take anywhere from several days to several months, depending on state policy and deliberations.

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