Michigan likely to comply with presidential voter data request

LANSING, MICH. - Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson is expected to at least partly comply with a request for detailed state voter data from President Donald Trump's Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which is investigating alleged voter fraud in the 2016 election.

Fred Woodhams, a spokesman for Johnson, said Friday that Michigan had not yet received the request for statewide voter data, including names, addresses, voting histories, and the last four digits of social security numbers. Woodhams could not immediately be reached Monday morning to say whether the request had arrived over the weekend.

"People should know that voter lists in Michigan and across the country are public record under state law and have been for decades," Woodhams said Friday.

"The department has no authority not to provide voter data. It is common for political parties and candidates to obtain voter info.," he said.

A possible exception would be the social security number information, which Woodhams confirmed is not available to citizens and political operatives purchasing voter data information in Michigan.

"I’m not going to speculate about how the department responds to the request until it is received and reviewed fully," Woodhams said, but "the federal government already has everyone’s full SSNs."

"The department will provide voter information consistent with state law but will not provide info protected by state law."

The Associated Press reported over the weekend that no state had so far said it would provide all of the requested data — which includes data kept in some states, but not in others, such as party affiliations and felony convictions. Voters do not register by political party in Michigan and felons are not banned from voting in Michigan.

Trump established the commission to investigate allegations of voter fraud in the 2016 elections, but Democrats have blasted it as a biased panel that is merely looking for ways to suppress the vote.

"Numerous states are refusing to give information to the very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL," Trump tweeted on Saturday. "What are they trying to hide?"

John Herrick of Okemos, a retired professor of social work at Michigan State University and a Democrat, said he's concerned about how the information will be used and said Johnson should seek voter input and consider refusing the request outright, regardless of whether the information is normally public.

"I suspect he's going to perhaps use it in some way to purge voter rolls — Trump seems to be obsessed by that," Herrick said. "I worry about things like that," and suspect that much of the information is considered public in other states that have refused the request.

Some of the nation's most populous states, including California and New York, are refusing to comply. But even some conservative states that voted for Trump, such as Texas, say they can provide only partial responses based on what is legally allowed under state law.

Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann issued a statement that said the commission "can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great State to launch from," adding "Mississippi residents should celebrate Independence Day and our state’s right to protect the privacy of our citizens by conducting our own electoral processes.”

Even in Kansas, where commission vice chairman Kris Kobach is secretary of state, a spokeswoman said the last four digits of Social Security numbers are not publicly available under Kansas law and would not be handed over. That was the case in many other states, noted in statements from top election officials and responses to queries from reporters for the Associated Press.

Officials in 10 states and the District of Columbia said they would not comply at all with the request. Those states are California, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, South Dakota, Tennessee and Virginia.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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© 2017 Lansing State Journal


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