When President Donald Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which is chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, sent a letter to every state in the country on Thursday requesting “publicly available voter roll data,” Delbert Hosemann, the Republican secretary of state from Mississippi, responded simply: “Go jump in the Gulf.” The letter that evoked Hosemann’s colorful retort was sent under the signature of the commission’s vice chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, one of only a few public figures to embrace the president’s unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud—the combating of which is the commission’s ostensible mission. In addition to all publicly available data on the states’ voter rolls, it also asked for data that are rarely considered to be public election records, such as information about felony convictions and the last four digits of the voter’s Social Security number. I’ve been studying America’s election administration since 2000, and I’ve rarely seen a firestorm like this. A few states have responded to Kobach’s letter with fiery opposition, such as California Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s statement that he refused to “legitimize” its work by contributing his state’s voter file. Others, like Hosemann, have used the request to remind Washington of the states’ pre-eminent role in running elections. But most states have approached the Kobach letter as a standard public records request, supplying the data they would supply anyone else who asked—sometimes for the required $12,500 fee, as in Wisconsin.
The form of the voter list request suggests Kobach is hoping to build a national voter registration list—a massive database consisting of every voter in the United States and their voting history over the past 10 years. The letter didn’t state this as the reason, but the consensus within the election administration community is that Kobach wants to conduct a huge data-matching project, to see how many noncitizens have voted in recent elections and to see how many people have voted twice in the same election.
These assumptions are based on Kobach’s reputation for his dogged determination that double-voting and noncitizen voting be eradicated in Kansas. He also has been an indefatigable advocate of the interstate crosscheck program, a Kansas-based program that facilitates the cross-state matching of voter lists. During the presidential transition, Kobach was photographed walking into a meeting with Donald Trump with talking points under his arm that revealed plans to “stop aliens from voting.”
If Kobach’s goal was to create a super crosscheck program, he would have been disappointed, even if every state had complied. His letter requests data that are ill-suited for accurate matching. Not only are the matching methods that are likely to be employed poorly suited to producing accurate results, the Department of Homeland Security immigration dataset, which might provide some information about the presence of noncitizens on voter rolls, can’t be searched by name.
Full Article: What Is Kris Kobach Up To? – POLITICO Magazine.