Block collaboration with Trump’s voter suppression commission
Donald Trump’s voter suppression commission is “laying the groundwork for voter suppression, plain & simple.”1 In one of its first acts, its vice chair, one of the worst perpetrators of voter suppression in the country, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, made a dangerous, unprecedented demand to state election officials: give me your voter rolls, now.2
Election integrity advocates immediately raised alarms about Kobach’s massive data request. Our friends at the Brennan Center said the request could be used to “justify regressive and disenfranchising federal law.”3 Other experts highlighted that the commission’s plan to make all the data public poses a dangerous privacy risk.4
State election officials are under no obligation to provide the data Kobach is demanding. Officials from more than 20 states have already indicated they will at least partially refuse to comply with the commission's demand. Officials in every state should wholly reject the request and refuse to provide even one piece of data to Kobach and his right-wing voter suppression commission.
Tell governors and state election officials: Defend our democracy. Refuse to share your state’s voter data with Trump’s voter suppression commission.
Trump and extremist right-wing Republicans relentlessly perpetuate the myth of voter fraud to cast doubt on the electoral process, reinforce racism, undermine the voting power of communities of color and justify laws that suppress the vote. Trump’s commission is designed to legitimize the voter fraud myth and supercharge suppression efforts at the national level.
The scale of private data that Kobach requested is staggering. He requested:
“the full first and last names of all registrants, middle names or initials if available, addresses, dates of birth, political party (if recorded in your state), last four digits of social security number if available, voter history (elections voted in) from 2006 onward, active/inactive status, cancelled status, information regarding any felony convictions, information regarding voter registration in another state, information regarding military status, and overseas citizen information.”5
Some state officials claim they are legally bound to comply with the commission’s request. Others are willing to turn over public data.6 They should all reconsider. The commission failed to submit its request through the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, in apparent violation of federal law.7 Experts believe that this breach gives states room to refuse the request. In addition, voting rights advocates are challenging the request in court on the grounds that it may violate federal privacy laws and other regulations governing the collection of personal data.8 States should not provide information – an act that cannot be undone – until these questions are resolved.
In addition, commission co-chair Mike Pence recently confirmed the commission will compare the data it collects to other federal databases.9 Voting rights advocates worry that this is a dangerous expansion of the reckless and discriminatory Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck program, built by commission co-chair and notorious vote suppressor, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Crosscheck is supposed to prevent double voting, but it encourages and enables voter purges. The system purges two hundred eligible voters, often young people and African-American, Latinx and Asian-American voters, for every double vote it finds.10,11 No state should help Trump, Kobach and Pence kick eligible voters off the voter rolls.
Tell governors and state election officials: Refuse to share your state’s voter data with Trump’s voter suppression commission.
Trump has stacked his commission with people infamous for their efforts to suppress the vote, including Mike Pence, Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson and Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.12-14 The day after Kobach sent his letter to the states, Trump added Hans von Spakovsky, who politicized and gutted the Department of Justice’s voter protection work during the George W. Bush administration, to the commission.15
Democratic and Republican officials in at least 20 states from California to Mississippi have said they will refuse to comply at all with the commission’s data request.16 Some states have said they will partially comply with the request while protecting private voter data.17 Unless they are required by law to do so, no state should enable or legitimize Trump's attempts to steal the vote by sharing any data with Kobach.
No state should collaborate in any way with Trump’s voter suppression commission. Click the link below to tell governors and state election officials to refuse to let any of their state’s voter data be used to undermine democracy:
Thanks for helping protect the right to vote.
- Christopher Ingraham, "Trump’s voter-fraud commission wants to know voting history, party ID and address of every voter in the U.S." The Washington Post, June 29, 2017.
- Jessica Huseman, "Presidential commission demands massive amounts of state voter data," ProPublica, June 29, 2017.
- Ari Berman, "The Trump administration is planning an unprecedented attack on voting rights," The Nation, June 30, 2017.
- Ari Berman, "The Trump Administration’s Voter-Suppression Plans Are Backfiring Badly," The Nation, July 5, 2017.
- Lydia Wheeler and Mike Lillis, "Voter fraud commission may have violated law," The Hill, July 5, 2017.
- Hunter Woodall, "Privacy group files lawsuit challenging Kobach, Trump’s voter records request," The Kansas City Star, July 4, 2017.
- Tomas Lopez, "The Gravest Dangers of Trump's Voter Fraud Commission," Time, July 7, 2017.
- Berman, "The Trump Administration’s Voter-Suppression Plans Are Backfiring Badly.”
- Greg Palast, "The GOP's stealth war against voters," Rolling Stone, Aug. 24, 2017.
- Robert King, "Was Indiana No. 1 in failing to do our civic duty?" The Indy Star, Nov. 12, 2014.
- Vanessa Williams, "Group accuses Mike Pence of voter suppression after state police raid registration program in Indiana," The Washington Post, Oct. 15, 2016.
- Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., "Was the 2004 election stolen?" Common Dreams, June 1, 2006.
- Sam Levine, "Donald Trump’s latest election commission pick is a huge believer in voter fraud conspiracy," HuffPost, June 30, 2017.
- Ari Berman, "The Trump administration’s voter-suppression plans are backfiring badly," The Nation, July 5, 2017.