Michigan SOS: Trump panel hasn’t asked for voter data

Jonathan Oosting, Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Lansing – Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s Office has not yet received a request for data from President Donald Trump’s Commission on Election Integrity, but will review it upon arrival and likely provide publicly available information, a spokesman said Friday.

The presidential panel this week sent letters to various states this week requesting information about voting laws and public voter roll data, including names of registered voters, a history of elections they’ve voted in and the last four digits of their Social Security numbers.

Trump created the commission through executive order on May 11.

As a candidate, the Republican repeatedly suggested the election would be rigged against him. Even after winning the Electoral College, Trump argued he would have won the popular vote “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally in the election.”

Democratic administrations in some states such as California and Virginia have refused to provide the data, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who said his state “refuses to perpetuate the myth voter fraud played a role in our election.” Others have argued the request invades privacy.

Johnson, a Republican, has defended the integrity of Michigan elections but appears likely to grant the request.

“People should know that voter lists in Michigan and across the country are public record under state law and have been for decades,” said Secretary of State spokesman Fred Woodhams. “The department has no authority not to provide voter data. It is common for political parties and candidates to obtain voter info.”

Republican secretaries of state in Colorado and Missouri have said they will grant the requests, according to the Associated Press.

The Congressional Black Caucus weighed in Friday, releasing a letter urging secretaries of state to deny the data requests from the commission and U.S. Department of Justice.

“We have little doubt that if complied with, these letters – issued unilaterally without any vote or public discussion – would lead to an unprecedented, nationwide voter suppression effort,” wrote caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond, a Louisianan Democrat who was joined by other caucus members including House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, D-Detroit.

A post-election state audit uncovered “an abundance of human error” by precinct workers in Detroit. The extensive review discovered 216 questionable votes that produced a net overvote of 40 ballots in a city that backed Democrat Hillary Clinton over Trump, 95 percent to 3 percent.

A separate statewide review found 31 Michiganians who appeared to vote twice, once by ballot and once in person on Election Day.

But a comprehensive review of Michigan voting data by the conservative Anderson Economic Group revealed no widespread voter fraud, a point Johnson has repeatedly echoed.

A letter sent this week to election officials in some states by Commission Vice Chair and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach requested voter data including political party registration, dates of birth and addresses. But the letter indicated the request only applied to information “publicly available under the laws of your state.”

Michigan will provide voter information “consistent with state law but will not provide info protected by state law,” Woodhams said.

He noted that even in states that are declining to provide data to the commission, “voter info is in fact readily available for a nominal fee.”

In additional to voter information, the presidential commission is asking state-level election officials to provide any evidence or information regarding instances of voter fraud or registration fraud.