The political uproar over a White House commission’s request to state election officials for a trove of personal data on the nation’s voters continued as secretaries of state gathered for their annual meeting on Friday in Indianapolis. The panel was set up to investigate claims of voter fraud, which experts generally agree is rare, after President Trump claimed illegal voting had cost him the popular vote in November’s election, and it has come under attack by election officials from both parties. As of Thursday evening, 20 states and the District of Columbia had outright rejected the request by Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state and vice chairman of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, which works to promote expanded access to the ballot. Most of the remaining states either said they were studying the request or agreed to provide only public information like lists of voters who are registered.
Some of the reaction was blistering, even from Republican state officials. Mississippi’s Republican secretary of state said last week those behind the request could “go jump in the Gulf of Mexico.” (The news organization Mississippi Today reported on Thursday that Mississippi has been providing this data to Interstate Crosscheck, a Kansas initiative with similar goals that Mr. Kobach runs.)
The commission fired back on Wednesday, issuing a statement that called the dust-up “fake news” arising from “obstruction by a handful of state politicians.” Some election scholars say, however, that there are real questions about the panel’s intent.