After the last election, Donald Trump claimed he would have won the popular vote had millions of illegals not voted. Stung by the lack of evidence for this claim, from states with Republican election officials in charge, the president created a 15-person “Election Integrity Commission” to investigate the matter himself. But ever since it was created, the commission has struggled with following the laws, and allegations that it has trampled on states’ rights.
Leading the commission, along with VP Mike Pence, is Kris Kobach, a Kansas politician many feel is seeking to run for the Sunflower State’s open governor position. He has also claimed that there has been rampant voter fraud in U.S. elections, according to CNN.
The trouble began when the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity demanded that the states and District of Columbia provide information on voters, including full names, addresses, birth dates, which political party the voter is registered with, and Social Security numbers. The Voter Fraud Commission also demanded information on voter felony convictions, were they registered to vote in other states, military status, and whether the voter had lived overseas, as well as a host of other pieces of information.
What Kobach certainly should have realized is that many of these states are not legally allowed to hand over such information to the national government. States are also leery of the online portal the commission wants to use, fearing it is open to hackers.
Never miss a local story.
Trump tweeted out: “Numerous states are refusing to give information to the very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL. What are they trying to hide?”
But this isn’t just Democrats in blue states protecting their voter information. Republicans, who jealously guard their states’ rights, are also standing up to this electoral commission. “My reply would be: They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico, and Mississippi is a great state to launch from,” said Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, according to CNN. “Mississippi residents should celebrate Independence Day and our state’s right to protect the privacy of our citizens by conducting our own electoral processes.”
Mississippi was supported by 44 states, including Alabama and Georgia. The Peach State refused to turn over non-public data on voter driver’s license numbers, Social Security numbers, birth dates, voter registration sites, phone numbers and emails. Alabama’s Secretary of State echoed that defense, sharing only public data. The only states that have not refused to turn over non-public data (like Illinois, Hawaii and four others) say they are still reviewing it.
In addition, reports have surfaced that the demands put upon states violate the law to properly request state data through the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), and violate a 1980 law known as the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), write Lydia Wheeler and Mike Lillis with The Hill. According to the law, states have the right to refuse the request, since it was not filed properly.
But the real question comes down to whether Georgians and Alabamans and residents of other states will still be allowed to investigate election fraud in their states, and protect sensitive voter information, or will it be usurped by a Kansas politician who has already stated his conclusions about what he expects to find before the evidence arrives.
John A. Tures is associate professor of political science at LaGrange College; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @JohnTures2.