A member of President Donald Trump’s commission on election integrity says he won’t hand over voter data to the panel without assurances about privacy protections and how the data would be used.
The delay from Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap (D), one of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity’s 12 members, comes a week after Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), the panel’s vice chair, sent a second request to states asking for publicly available voter information. Kobach made the initial request at the end of June and was met with bipartisan backlash.
He resubmitted his request after a federal judge ruled the commission wasn’t violating federal privacy law.
Kobach assured election officials in his letter last week that sensitive voter information would be protected and deleted once the probe’s work concluded. But Dunlap still wants more information.
“We need to know what our goals are,” Dunlap told the Bangor Daily News on Tuesday. “There are some real questions here about whether or not this data can be secured, and it may not provide us with anything of value anyway,”
The information available to the public is the voter’s name, address, year of birth, party affiliation and whether or not they participated in the past two elections, according to the Portland Press Herald.
“Secretary Dunlap initially denied the request based on the provision in Maine law that prohibits Maine voter data from public disclosure and is standing by that decision in his denial of the second request,” Dunlap’s office said in a statement Tuesday. “In his response, Secretary Dunlap states that he is ‘uncertain whether the Commission has the plenary authority to exempt documents from public review,’ and that the commission as a whole should discuss the data-gathering effort prior to requesting the data from States.”
The commission has been inconsistent in details about how it would store data and what would be made public. In his initial letter to states, Kobach said all documents election officials gave to the commission would be made public, but he said in a later court filing he didn’t intend for that to include voter information. Kobach also requested election officials submit voter information via email or through a file exchange on a military server. Amid litigation, the commission changed course and said all information would be stored on White House servers.
Kobach has insisted that there was nothing controversial about his initial request ― which sought any publicly available voter information, including, if possible, the last four digits of Social Security numbers and voter history.
Along with Dunlap, Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson (R) and Kobach have said they are barred by state law from releasing some of the information the panel’s vice chair was interested in. (Kobach is prevented from overturning the last four digits of Social Security numbers in his state.)
Kobach has defended asking for information he knew states couldn’t provide by saying he was just trying to cast as wide a net as possible.