Politics & Government

Grimes stiffing Trump committee’s request for ‘sensitive personal data’ of voters

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes spoke during the second day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last July.
Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes spoke during the second day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last July. AP

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes announced late Thursday that she won’t comply with a request for detailed information about Kentucky voters from the committee that President Trump set up to investigate election integrity.

“I do not intend to release Kentuckians’ sensitive personal data to the federal government,” Grimes said in a written statement. “The president created his election commission based on the false notion that ‘voter fraud’ is a widespread issue — it is not.”

The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity was established to investigate Trump’s claims that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election. It is chaired by Vice President Mike Pence.

Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State and vice chairman of the commission, sent a letter to Grimes dated June 28 asking for the names, addresses, last four digits of Social Security numbers, birth dates, political affiliation and voting history of every Kentucky voter since 2006. The letter didn’t explain the purpose for the personal information.

Grimes said she refuses to comply with the request, implying that it’s an unnecessary invasion of privacy.

“Indeed, despite bipartisan objections and a lack of authority, the president has repeatedly spread the lie that three (million) to five million illegal votes were cast in the last election,” Grimes said. “Kentucky will not aid a commission that is at best a waste of taxpayer money and at worst an attempt to legitimize voter-suppression efforts across the country.”

Earlier Thursday, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said complying would “legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud,” and Connecticut’s secretary of state, Denise Merrill, said she would withhold protected data, while requesting memos and meeting minutes from the committee, which she said have not been open. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe also said he won’t cooperate with the commission.

Kobach told the Kansas City Star on Thursday that the personal information would be stored on a secure server run by the federal government and that the Social Security numbers were necessary to prevent false positives.

“The idea is to have the best data possible,” Kobach told the newspaper. “The purpose of the commission is to quantify different forms of voter fraud and registration fraud, and offer solutions. And so you have to have this data in order to do any meaningful research.”

Kobach has backed strict voter-ID laws throughout the country and has prosecuted nine people for voter fraud since gaining the authority to do so in 2015. Last week, he was fined $1,000 by a federal magistrate judge for making “patently misleading representations” about a document he was photographed taking into a meeting with Trump.

The letter also asks secretaries of state for their views and recommendations on how federal election laws could be changed to increase the integrity of federal elections.

Daniel Desrochers: 502-875-3793, @drdesrochers, @BGPolitics