A rose by any other name...
At least 44 states are now declining to fully comply with the demand for sensitive voter information from President Trump's Election Integrity Commission, and the explanations range from hands tied by state law to indignation at the request. "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 (R). Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh (D) called the "request for the personal information of millions of Marylanders repugnant; it appears designed only to intimidate voters and to indulge President Trump's fantasy that he won the popular vote."
Over the weekend, Trump appeared to take the reluctance to turn over sensitive information personally, tweeting: "Numerous states are refusing to give information to the very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL. What are they trying to hide?" On Wednesday, the vice chairman of Trump's commission, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, hit back in a slightly different manner.
"While there are news reports that 44 states have 'refused' to provide voter information to the commission, these reports are patently false, more 'fake news,'" Kobach said in a statement released by the White House. "At present, only 14 states and the District of Columbia have refused the commission's request for publicly available voter information," while "20 states have agreed to provide the publicly available information requested by the commission and another 16 states are reviewing which information can be released under their state laws."
In a letter sent to all 50 states last week, Kobach asked for the names, birth dates, addresses, political party, and felony convictions of each voter, plus the last four digits of their Social Security numbers, "if publicly available under the laws of your state," explaining that all this information would eventually be released publicly. Among those secretaries of state who won't hand over all that information are Kobach and Connie Lawson, another Republican on Trump's commission and the secretary of state of Indiana, who said state law prevents her from handing over "the personal information requested by Secretary Kobach."
The pushback isn't unexpected, given that states run elections and resent intrusion from the feds, Florida GOP operative John McKager "Mac" Stipanovich tells The Washington Post. "I think if it were a different president, you might not get a markedly different result," he added. "But what you would not get is some of the heartfelt explanations about why they're not complying."