Kentucky Secretary Of State Denies White House Request For Voter Information

Originally published on June 30, 2017 8:10 pm
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President Trump has always maintained that he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton in last year's election only because of millions of people who voted illegally. There is no evidence to support that claim. But when Trump took office, he created a commission to look into voter fraud. Well, now that commission is asking states to provide detailed information about voters, including names, party affiliations and voting histories.

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In a moment, we'll hear from the commission's vice chairman, Kris Kobach. First, several states have said they will not cooperate. Kentucky is one of them. Earlier I spoke with Alison Lundergan Grimes, Kentucky's secretary of state, who's a Democrat. I asked her to explain her objections to the request.

ALISON LUNDERGAN GRIMES: Well, I think it's inconsistent with the 10th Amendment. First and foremost, elections are left to the states to run, especially the registration of voters. Secondly, if you look at the information that has been requested, not only is it overly broad, but it compromises the personal privacy of individuals. It's sensitive information - not only names and addresses and registrations, which might be typical. But it requests, importantly, dates of birth, voting histories, the last four digits of individual Social Security numbers.

This is akin to the federal government reaching out to secretaries of state nationally in an effort to create a national voter registration database, which is something I'm not in favor of. And as I know many folks across the aisle, if they weren't in favor of a national gun registry, they certainly aren't in favor of this.

SHAPIRO: The letter also says that states should only provide this information if publicly available under the laws of your state. What's the problem with providing information that's already public?

GRIMES: Well, I think that you have to look at the way in which the information they've requested is asked to be transmitted. It's an unsecure website. This day and age, when we have confirmed attempts by foreign actors to create persuasion campaigns and interfere with our elections, the last thing we want to do is to put information, even information that might be publicly available, in a domain that is unsecure, compromises millions across the nation and, in Kentucky, 3.2 million registered voters.

And I think next you have to realize the reason this commission was created was to try to formulate some sort of background and basis authority for a lie that the president has continued to perpetrate, that folks in a bipartisan manner across the aisle continue to object to on the lack of any authority or foundation. And that's that 3.3 to 5 million people voted illegally in this last election.

SHAPIRO: Do you think there are legitimate election integrity concerns about duplicate or wrong names on the voter rolls, things like that that Kentucky needs to address?

GRIMES: Listen. The presidential commission on election report that was conducted under President Obama revealed some great things that secretaries of state across the nation have worked to enact to make sure that we can streamline the process, we can increase participation, importantly, we can ensure the integrity of the process. There's always work to be done. But creating a national voter registration file whose intent is nothing more than to try to justify a claim that has been debunked over and over again, a lie that the president continues to try to perpetuate - it's something that is inconsistent with protecting the integrity of our elections.

SHAPIRO: That's Alison Lundergan Grimes, the secretary of state for Kentucky. Thanks for joining us.

GRIMES: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.