President Donald Trump fired off a tweet Saturday aimed at the growing number of secretaries of state resisting a broad request for data by his voter-fraud commission, including officials from deep red states whose support the controversy-laden White House can ill afford to lose. “Numerous states are refusing to give information to the very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL,” Trump tweeted of officials from more than 20 states who so far have questioned the panel’s request. “What are they trying to hide?” Indiana, home of Vice President Mike Pence, and Mississippi, a state that voted heavily for the president, are among those states. Trump’s taunt may have been meant to counter a backlash that could effectively scuttle much of the work of Presidential Advisory Commission on Voter Integrity before it begins. Officials on the panel said they planned to compare the state records to databases of undocumented immigrants and legal foreigners in order to determine if large numbers of unqualified voters are participating in U.S. elections.
Deploying sometimes colorful language, state officials have called the panel’s request for data that includes voters’ partial Social Security numbers inappropriate, and said they wouldn’t comply or would only provide information that was already publicly available.
“They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico, and Mississippi is a great state to launch from,” Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, a Republican, said in a statement released Friday.
While the data request resonates with long-held Republican claims about illegal voting, the panel — and by extension, the White House — suddenly finds itself on what usually sympathetic state officials say is the wrong side of the issue of states’ rights.