CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - In a week filled by political drama, a revised travel ban and a dizzying health care battle, the Trump administration's voter-fraud commission made its first move only to get rejected by 22 secretaries of state. States immediately raised concerns and voiced their opposition to providing private information on voters.
President Donald Trump's Election Integrity Commission vice chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has championed a crackdown on voter identification laws, penned a letter to all 50 states requesting their full voter role data, including the name, address, date of birth, party affiliation, last four Social Security number digits and voting history back to 2006.
The letter also said, "any documents that are submitted to the full Commission will also be made available to the public."
The investigation into voter fraud was launched after the president barked an unsubstantiated claim that between 3 million and 5 million undocumented immigrants cast ballots in the 2016 presidential election — robbing him of victory in the popular vote by 2.8 million.
Democrats, Republicans and civil rights leaders condemned the commission as a taxpayer-funded witch hunt into an issue that barely exists. The American Civil Liberties Union formally requested the White House show "concrete evidence" of widespread fraudulent voting.
Illegal voting does happen. But it's rare and a far cry from the president's claim of "millions" of "illegals" voting for the Democratic Party. His claims have been repeatedly discredited by elections chiefs and law enforcement. In Ohio, 426 non-citizens are registered to vote, 82 of whom voted in at least one election, according to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted.
Since the commission's founding, the Department of Homeland Security discovered Russia tried to interfere with voting systems in 21 states, part of the country's effort to meddle in the 2016 election through cyber attacks. But there's no evidence votes were manipulated. The White House has not issued any statements regarding the DHS' findings.
Husted, the two-term Republican secretary of state and gubernatorial candidate said on Friday he will provide some basic information but will exempt driver's license and social security numbers.
Chief election officials from both sides of the aisle expressed skepticism about the president's claim of rampant voter fraud.
"In Ohio, we pride ourselves on being a state where it is easy to vote and hard to cheat," Husted said in a written statement Friday. "Voter fraud happens, it's rare and when it happens we hold people accountable. I believe that as the commission does its work, it will find the same about our state."
Husted said the state's reviews on elections and voter registration information is available online and he will not share confidential information with the federal government.
"We will have ideas on how the federal government can better support states in running elections. However, we will make it clear that we do not want any federal intervention in our state's right and responsibility to conduct elections," Husted said
Some lawmakers and elections officials say the commission is ill-conceived and a potential front for attacking voting rights.
"There's not enough bourbon here in Kentucky to make this request seem sensible," Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Grimes said in an interview on MSNBC Friday.
Officials have raised concerns about the commission's request for confidential information — saying they cannot legally disclose private information.
"Indiana law doesn't permit the secretary of state to provide the personal information," Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson said Friday. "Under Indiana public records laws, certain voter info is available to the public, the media and any other person who requested the information for non-commercial purposes. The information publicly available is name, address and congressional district assignment."
The 22 states are California, Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.