TOPEKA — Ahead of the first meeting of President Donald Trump’s election integrity commission, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is asking states for detailed voter data to “fully analyze” any issues related to registration and voting.
Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill, a Democrat, received a letter signed by Kobach and dated Wednesday that asks for detailed publicly available data on voters across the country, as well as recommendations on changes to law and information security and evidence and convictions related to instances of voter fraud.
Trump nominated Kobach to be vice chairman of the commission after repeatedly claiming millions of illegal votes cost him the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election. The commission will meet for the first time next month.
Kobach’s data request raised a red flag for Merrill. She said in a statement released Thursday she would share information already publicly available with the commission, but she also would request memos, minutes and additional information about the commission, “as state officials have not been told precisely what the commission is looking for.”
Merrill’s spokesman, Patrick Gallahue, said voters’ names, addresses, party, date of birth and election turnout history would be publicly available. Other information Kobach requested, including the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers and military status, wouldn’t be made available, he said.
In her statement, Merrill criticized Kobach’s efforts to tighten election laws and called his work a “record of illegally disenfranchising eligible voters.”
Kobach has said his signature policies help protect elections from fraud without preventing lawful voters from voting.
Kansas State Rep. John Carmichael, a Democrat who opposes Kobach’s policies, said Thursday he was concerned the request would be a step toward creating a national voter database that could be used to intimidate lawful voters.
“This has all the hallmarks of Kris Kobach and Donald Trump commencing a national witch hunt,” he said.
Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said in a statement Kobach’s letter and a Department of Justice letter asking states for information on “voter registration list maintenance procedures” are concerning.
“It’s likely that this is instead the beginning of an effort to force unwarranted voter purges,” she said in the statement.
In the letter, Kobach requested each registered voter’s name, address, date of birth, political party, final four digits of their Social Security number, election turnout history since 2006, active/inactive status, canceled status, felony conviction information, information regarding voter registration in another state, military status and overseas citizen information.
Last week, a federal judge fined Kobach $1,000 for “deceptive conduct and lack of candor” related to a document Kobach took to a meeting with Trump last year.
Kobach’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment.