Most states not giving driver’s license data to Census Bureau
Orlando, Fla. – An effort by the U.S. Census Bureau to collect state driver’s license records as part of President Donald Trump’s order to gather citizenship information has been a bust so far.
As of Wednesday, the vast majority of state motor vehicle agencies had not agreed to share their records with the bureau, according to an Associated Press survey of the 50 states. The effort over the past couple of months has alarmed civil rights groups, which see it as part of a backdoor move by the Trump administration to reduce the political power of minorities.
In August, the bureau began requesting five years’ worth of driver’s license records, promising the information would be kept confidential. The effort began after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the Trump’s administration plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, and the president instead ordered citizenship data compiled through administrative records.
At least 13 states have refused to share the driver’s license data, 17 are still deciding what to do, and 17, including Michigan, haven’t yet received a request, according to the AP survey. Three states didn’t respond to multiple AP queries.
Republican and Democratic states alike have said no, citing privacy concerns and prohibitions in state law.
“Philosophically, we believe the information in the database doesn’t belong to us. It belongs to the people who it pertains to,” Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap said.
Two of the biggest states, California and New York, haven’t received requests yet. Three more of the top five most populous states – Texas, Florida and Pennsylvania – are deciding how to respond.
Census Bureau officials had no immediate comment.
The requests started in August and have continued through this month. States that haven’t decided how to respond said they were researching the implications.