Ethics and Democracy

Tell Your Secretary of State to Refuse Kobach Commission’s Voter Data Requests


On May 11, Donald Trump issued an Executive Order establishing a “Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity,” to be chaired by Vice President Mike Pence and managed by Vice-Chair Kris Kobach (R-KS Secretary of State). Make no mistake, “election integrity” is nothing but pretext. The real purpose of this commission is voter suppression.

On June 28, Kris Kobach sent a letter to election officials in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, requesting a massive amount of their voter data, if publicly available under state law—including highly personal information such as date of birth, political party, last four digits of Social Security Numbers, and elections voted in from 2006 onward. The letter asks that the data be uploaded into a federal government system for large data files, and says all documents submitted to the Commission will be made available to the public.

The true end goal: voter suppression. Shortly after taking office, Trump alleged, without any evidence, that “massive voter fraud” in the form of voter impersonation and ballots cast by noncitizens accounted for his losing the popular vote by more than 3 million votes. When asked for evidence, he said he would establish a commission to look into it. However, many Secretaries of State believe the Commission’s true purpose is data manipulation to falsely substantiate Trump’s voter fraud claims and provide a rationale for national legislation that would result in voter suppression and intimidation, especially within demographic groups more likely to vote Democrat than Republican.

Tell your Secretary of State to stand strong against the request. As of July 10th, 45 states and the District of Columbia have already partially or fully refused to comply, four states say they are still reviewing it (ID, IL, NH, and SC), and one has not yet commented (HI). DC and 18 states have said they refuse to comply with any of the data requests, three states have said they would partially comply only on certain conditions regarding how the data will be used and secured (AL, NE, and NM), and 24 states will refuse to submit any information not required of them under their existing state laws. For the latest status of all states, check here.

No matter what stance your state officials are taking, they need to hear from you—Call your Secretary of State (or state election officials) and tell them only to comply with as little of the Commission’s data request as they are legally required.


Sample Call Dialogue (Below List of State Positions)

States partially complying with request or undecided

State Name and Title Phone Number Current Position
Alabama John Merrill, Secretary of State 334-242-7200 Will share public data on certain conditions
Alaska Byron Mallott, Lieutenant Governor 907-269-7460 Sharing public info
 Arkansas Mark Martin, Secretary of State 501-682-1010 Already submitted some of requested data
Colorado Wayne Williams, Secretary of State 303-894-2200 Sharing public info
Florida Ken Detzner, Secretary of State 850-245-6000 Sharing public info
Georgia Brian Kemp, Secretary of State 404-656-2881 Sharing public info
Hawaii Scott Nago, Chief Election Officer 808-453-8683 No statement yet
Idaho Lawerence Denney, Secretary of State 208-334-2300 Still reviewing
Illinois Steve Sandvoss, Executive Director of the Board of Elections 217-782-4141 Still reviewing
Indiana Connie Lawson, Secretary of State 317-232-6536 Sharing public info
Iowa Paul Pate, Secretary of State 515-281-6230 Sharing public info
Kansas Kris Kobach, Secretary of State 785-296-4564 Sharing public info
Michigan Ruth Johnson, Secretary of State 517-373-2510 Sharing public info
Missouri Jay Ashcroft, Secretary of State 573-751-4936 Supports sharing data
Montana Corey Stapleton, Secretary of State 406-444-2034 Sharing public info
Nebraska John Gale, Secretary of State 402-471-2554 Will share public data on certain conditions
Nevada Barbara Cegavske, Secretary of State 775-684-5708 Sharing public info
New Hampshire Bill Gardner, Secretary of State 603-271-3242 Still reviewing
New Jersey Kim Guadagno, Lieutenant Governor 609-292-6000 Sharing public info
New Mexico Maggie Toulouse, Secretary of State 505-827-3600 Will share public data on certain conditions
North Carolina Kim Westbrook-Strach, Director of the Board of Elections 919-733-7173 Sharing public info
Ohio Jon Husted, Secretary of State 614-466-2655 Will work with commission to share public info
Oklahoma Paul Ziriax, Secretary of Board of Elections 405-521-2391 Sharing public info
Oregon Dennis Richardson, Secretary of State 503-986-1523 Will work with commission to share public info
Rhode Island Nellie Gorbea, Secretary of State 401-222-2357 Sharing public info
South Carolina Marci Andino, Executive Director of the Election Commission 803-734-9060 Still reviewing
Texas Rolando Pablos, Secretary of State 512-463-5770 Sharing public info
Utah Spencer Cox, Lieutenant Governor  801-538-1041 Sharing public info
Vermont Jim Condos, Secretary of State 802-828-2148 Exploring options available to avoid sharing data
Washington Kim Wyman, Secretary of State  360-902-4151 Sharing public info
West Virginia Andrew Warner, Secretary of State 304-558-6000 Sharing public info
Wisconsin Mike Haas, Administrator of the Elections Commission 608-266-8005 Sharing public info

Caller: Hello! My name is [name], and I’m calling from [place in state]. Can you tell me what the Secretary of State's position is in response to the June 28 letter from the Kobach Commission, requesting a vast amount of voter information data?

Staffer Reply Option A: The Secretary of State will comply with the voter data request only to the extent allowed under state law—that means no private information. You can rest assured that only information already publicly available will be given to them. The privacy of our state’s voters will be respected. Under state law, we are required to release publicly available information when requested.

OR

Staffer Reply Option B: The Secretary of State will decide how to respond to the voter data request after state officials have finished reviewing the Commission’s letter.

Caller: As a [name of state] voter, I feel it’s extremely important that my state government comply with as little of the Commission’s data request as legally required.

Staffer: I understand your concerns about protecting your privacy, but don’t worry, we will follow our state laws regarding release of information. Moreover, state law requires that we release certain voter roll information whenever we receive such requests.

Caller: But you’re overlooking a crucial consideration: how the data will be used. It is clear that this commission’s main purpose is to provide a rationale for national legislation that would result in voter suppression and intimidation. This is clear from the Commission’s membership, which Trump has stacked with Secretaries of State who have already been pursuing such policies and legislation at the state level.

Staffer: But regardless of how the Commission may use the information, we must comply with state law regarding voter roll data requests.

Caller: I understand. But the Commission’s letter says it will make public all documents the states provide it. Does [name of my state] law allow the voter data requester to make publicly available the data you provide? And does state law allow its release if it will be used for commercial purposes? Even if the Commission doesn’t put the data to commercial use, you can bet that others will do it, as soon as the Commission makes it publicly available.

Staffer: I’m not sure whether state law allows commercial use of the data or making it publicly available, but I can certainly pass along your questions or concerns.

Caller: Please do. I would appreciate that. And I have another major concern: cybersecurity. The Kobach Commission files would be a be a treasure trove for Russian hackers. I want my voter information protected. Please don’t release ANY of it to the Commission, or as little as [state name] is legally required.

I want to know, as a resident of [State] whether the Secretary will promise to comply with as little of the Kobach commission request as possible. I can be reached at [my phone number] or [my email address].

Staffer: I will pass along your concerns to the [Secretary of State/ election official].

Caller: Thank you. I look forward to your answers to my questions about state law regarding any restrictions on the use of voter data. And I’ll be very interested to see how the Secretary of State responds to the Commission’s data request.

Sample Call Dialogue (Below List of State Positions)

States refusing to comply with any of the request

State Name and Title Phone Number Current Position
Arizona Michele Reagan, Secretary of State 602-542-4285 Refused
California Alex Padilla, Secretary of State 916-653-7244 Refused
Connecticut Denise Merrill, Secretary of State 860-509-6200 Refused
Delaware Elaine Manlove, State Commissioner of Elections 302-739-4277 Refused
Kentucky Alison Lundergan-Grimes, Secretary of State 502-564-3490 Refused
Louisiana Tom Schedler, Secretary of State 225-922-2880 Refused
Maine Matt Dunlap, Secretary of State 207-626-8400 Refused
Maryland Linda Lamone, Administrator of Elections 410-269-2840 Refused
Massachusetts William F. Galvin, Secretary of State 617-727-9180 Refused
Minnesota Steve Simon, Secretary of State 651-201-1324 Refused
Mississippi Delbert Hosemann, Secretary of State 601-359-9372 Refused
New York Todd Valentine and Robert Brehm, Co-Directors of the Board of Elections 518-474-8100 Refused
North Dakota Alvin Jaeger, Secretary of State 701-328-2900 Refused
Pennsylvania Pedro Cortés, Secretary of Commonwealth 717-787-6458 Refused
South Dakota Shantel Krebs, Secretary of State 605-773-3537 Refused
Tennessee Tre Hargett, Secretary of State 615-741-2819 Refused
Virginia Edgardo Cortés, Commissioner of the Department of Elections 804-864-8901 Refused
Wyoming Ed Murray, Secretary of State 307-777-7378 Refused 

Caller: Hello! My name is [name], and I’m calling from [place in state]. Can you tell me what the Secretary of State's position is in response to the June 28 letter from the Kobach Commission, requesting a vast amount of voter information data?

Staffer: The Secretary of State has decided [name of state] will refuse to comply with any of the Commission’s request for voter data.

Caller: I’m very glad to hear that. Has [s/he] issued a formal reply to the Commission?

Staffer: Not yet, but [s/he] will do it before the Commission’s requested response deadline of July 14.

Caller: In the meantime, has the Secretary of State issued a public statement on [his/her] position and reasons for it?

Staffer: Yes, I can email you a link to it if you like.

Caller: I’d appreciate that. Please send it to [my email address]. I’d also appreciate your letting the Secretary of State know that I wholeheartedly support [his/her] decision not to comply with any of the Commission’s voter data request.

Staffer: I’ll do that, and thank you for your call.