Arizona might be about to turn over reams of your voter data to the Trump administration's so-called voter fraud commission; however, dates of birth and social security numbers will be withheld, the Secretary of State said.
The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is investigating what President Donald Trump believes to be a widespread pattern of voter fraud. Voting officials insist that in-person voting fraud is nearly nonexistent.
The commission is led by Kris Kobach, who also serves as the Kansas secretary of state. Kobach has aggressively campaigned against the specter of voter fraud and sent a letter to all 50 states requesting broad voter data on Wednesday.
In response to a request for comment from Phoenix New Times, Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan said in a statement that said Arizona will “only make available the same redacted information that is available to the general public through a public records request,” omitting social security numbers and dates of birth. But other voter information available through records requests, it seems, is fair game.
Legal experts and election officials alike say voter fraud is essentially nonexistent in the U.S. What's more, voting rights advocates argue Republican state legislatures have used the idea of voter fraud as a cudgel to suppress turnout, particularly among minorities, young people, and low-income voters.
So far, more than 20 states, including Kentucky, Virginia, and Utah, have said they will refrain from handing over sensitive voter data to Kobach and the commission.
Voter fraud has loomed large in Trump's imagination, who has used it to excuse his popular-vote loss to Hillary Clinton. "In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally," he tweeted on November 27.
Trump seems to have found a kindred spirit in Kobach, an anti-voter-fraud zealot who has been sued four times by the ACLU since he took office in 2010 for legislation that required voters to produce identifying documents before casting a ballot.
Not only that, but Kobach has a history with Arizona, too. According to a New York Times Magazine profile, Kobach struck up a friendship with Joe Arpaio, who at the time was Maricopa County sheriff, about 2007. Kobach later trained Arpaio's deputies and praised his department.
As if it couldn't get any worse, Kobach also assisted former State Senator Russell Pearce with the language of SB 1070: Arizona's "Papers, please" bill that required police to ask people whom they suspected were undocumented to prove their citizenship status.
During his tenure in Kansas, Kobach also expanded an interstate voter database called the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program. In Crosscheck, a computer program scans for signs of voters who might’ve voted in more than one state, raising uncanny parallels with Kobach's request for voter information across the country.
Dale Ho, the American Civil Liberties Union’s voting rights project director, condemned what he called the beginning of "a nationwide assault on voting rights" in a statement.
“That Kobach – who has been successfully sued many times for voter suppression – is now asking for details on every single voter in the U.S. is deeply alarming and raises significant privacy concerns," Ho said. "States are right to balk at turning over massive reams of personal information in what clearly is a campaign to suppress the vote.”
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In a copy of the letter made public by the Connecticut secretary of state, Kobach asks for full names, addresses, birthdays, political party, last four digits of the Social Security number, voting history since 2006, and more. He also requests that states provide information on "instances of voter fraud or registration fraud in your state" and "convictions for election-related crimes" since 2000.
In an ironic twist, Kobach's home state of Kansas won't hand over Social Security digits to his own commission. (He explained to the Kansas City Star that the information is not publicly available in the state.)
In a statement on June 26, Secretary of State Reagan wrote that her office remains vigilant about voting fraud, especially after details of the Russian cyberattacks during the 2016 election.
"While Arizonans have a fundamental right to a fair election, we must also have a process that voters feel is free from fraud," she said.