WASHINGTON – Critics continue to push back against the Trump administration’s plan to gather and scrutinize American voter data.
“This presidential Commission on Election Integrity is a commission in search of a problem,” said U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who joined with other Senate Democrats Tuesday to call on the administration to rescind its request and to ask the Department of Justice to rule on whether the White House had the authority to request and compile election data from all 50 states. “A study recently found that out of 1 billion votes cast between 2000 and 2014, there were only 31 incidences of documented voter fraud.”
A spokesman for the Department of Justice declined to comment.
The voter fraud probe touched off a wave of lawsuits and on Monday, the panel announced that it would hold off on its data request to the states until a judge ruled on a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington. The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit in federal court Monday, arguing that the election fraud commission had skirted government transparency and open meeting rules.
Minnesota is one of 17 states that have refused to comply with the commission’s request, and other states plan to turn over some of the requested data, which includes names, addresses, ages, voting histories back to 2006 and partial social security numbers. The decision by Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, a DFLer, to decline the request drew criticism from several Republican state lawmakers.
Administration officials and supporters of the commission’s mission to battle voter fraud argue that the requested information is already publicly available in most states. Klobuchar and her colleagues counter that some of the data — like social security numbers and voters’ birth dates — are protected by law in states like Minnesota.
Klobuchar, who has introduced legislation to help states guard against cyberattacks on their voter data, also questioned the wisdom of gathering 50 states’ worth of data in a single database that hackers could target.
Mississippi’s Republican secretary of state, Delbert Hosemann, responded to the request by inviting the committee to go jump in the Gulf of Mexico. Klobuchar said she had a better idea. “They should jump in Lake Superior,” she said. “It’s a lot colder.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.