The majority of U.S. states—including several with strong local Republican parties—impeded Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach's voter fraud investigation when leaders refused to comply with his June 28 request for voter data.
The Associated Press/USA Today reported yesterday (July 5) and updated today (July 6) that more than 40 states either completely dismissed Kobach and his Trump-ordered Presidential Advisory Committee on Election Integrity's call for voters' data, or agreed to only turn over select, publicly available information. Here's where each state stands as of press time:
- Refusal: Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming
- Partial compliance:
labama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia
- No official response: lorida, Hawaii, Illinois, Nebraska
Washington D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser also rejected the commission's request, saying it "serves no legitimate purpose and only raises questions on its intent." Bowser's opinions reflect those of electoral officials in Delaware, California, Kentucky, Mississippi and other states who see the commission's work as undermining electoral fairness and state autonomy. Secretaries of just three states—Colorado, Missouri and Tennessee—offered praise for Kobach's actions.
Although it acknowledged that states may only release what their laws permit, Kobach's request letter specifically asked for personal voter information, including "last four digits of social security number," details "regarding any felony convictions" and "overseas citizen information.
The commission's creation—and Kobach's appointment as vice chair—grew out of Trump's unsubstantiated allegation that millions of undocumented immigrants illegally voted against him and cost him the popular vote. Critics see Kobach's role as further proof of the Trump Administration's plan to suppress the votes of marginalized groups—all under the cover of voter fraud fearmongering. Complaints against Kobach include, but are not limited to:
- Repeatedly echoing Trump's voter fraud claims without evidence
- Advising Trump on the planned U.S.-Mexico border wall
- Developing Arizona's SB 1070 and Alabama's HB 56, the country's most severe anti-immigrant bills, both of which allow law enforcement officers to question anyone they suspect is undocumented
- Publishing English- and Spanish-language voting guides that did not include the same information about acceptable voter ID
- Pushing voter ID laws, which disproportionately hurt poor people of color, in multiple states
Kobach denounced the reports in a White House statement yesterday. "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,'" he said.
Kobach also faces legal challenges, thanks to his recently announced candidacy in Kansas' 2018 gubernatorial race. The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a legal advocacy group of civil rights attorneys, sued Kobach for allegedly violating the Hatch Act (which prohibits many federal employees from partisan political activity) by using the commission's activities for his own political gain.