The White House is pushing back at media reports that claim dozens of states are refusing to hand over voters’ private data.
Vice President Mike Pence, chairman of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, said on Wednesday that 36 states “have either agreed or are considering” complying with the commission’s request, which included providing it with voters’ names, addresses, birthdays, political parties, last four Social Security number digits, and election participation records.
“While there are news reports that 44 states have ‘refused’ to provide voter information to the Commission, these reports are patently false, more ‘fake news,'” Pence said in a statement.
“Despite media distortions and obstruction by a handful of state politicians, this bipartisan commission on election integrity will continue its work to gather the facts through public records requests to ensure the integrity of each American’s vote because the public has a right to know.”
The voting commission’s request, sent to officials in all 50 states last week, specified to only turn over information that was publicly available.
Still, the request alarmed election officials across the country, and several states said they would not comply. According to The Nation’s count, 20 states have refused to turn over any data, with some officials citing privacy concerns. Others accused the White House of using the panel to lend credence to President Donald Trump’s baseless claim that millions of illegal votes were cast in last year’s election.
Pence seemed to arrive at his count of 36 states by combining states that agreed to turn over some publicly available information with states that have not yet responded to the request.
States that refused to provide the data span the political spectrum, from Alabama to California. Maryland’s attorney general Brian Frosh said the commission’s request was “designed only to intimidate voters and to indulge President Trump’s fantasy that he won the popular vote.” And Kentucky’s secretary of state Alison Lundergan Grimes said “There’s not enough bourbon here in Kentucky to make this request seem sensible.”