June 30, 2017

NM’s secretary of state won’t release voter information to Trump’s voter commission

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While she hasn’t yet received a written request to do so, New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver pledged Friday to not release voter information to President Donald Trump’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

The commission, which is asking for copies of every state’s voter roll data as well as personal information including military status and the final four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers if included in the data, sent letters to all 50 states

“I will never release the personally identifiable information of New Mexico voters protected by law, including their social security number and birthdate,” Toulouse Oliver said Friday in a prepared statement. “Further, I will not release any other voter information like names, addresses or voting history unless and until I am convinced the information will not be used for nefarious or unlawful purposes, and only if I am provided a clear plan for how it will be secured.”

Toulouse Oliver previously criticized the commission as “a Trojan Horse used to justify partisan efforts making it harder to vote.”

NM Political Report asked Gov. Susana Martinez’s office whether she received a letter from the commision. Her office did not respond before press time.

The commission itself is highly controversial. Its vice chair, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has focused on voter fraud for years, with little to show.

His efforts to impose strict laws on voter registration and voting in Kansas have been met with multiple lawsuits from the American Civil Liberties Union. These include suits over his attempt to compare names on lists of voter rolls with Kansas state birth records to identify who is eligible to vote in the state.

Thursday, the White House announced Hans Von Spakovsky would join the commission. Von Spakovsky worked in the Justice Department under George W. Bush and has been one of the most prominent voices calling for stricter voter ID laws and other voting restrictions.

Toulouse Oliver, during both her 2014 and 2016 campaigns for Secretary of State, opposed instituting voter ID laws in New Mexico.

The scope of the commission and the commission’s request has also raised eyebrows.

ProPublica quoted experts who “reacted with a mix of alarm and bafflement.”

Some states have refused to give the voter information to the commission.

In California the Secretary of State, Democrat Alex Padilla, said participating “would only serve to legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud made by the President, the Vice President, and Mr. Kobach.”

The country’s most-populous state, with the largest voter rolls, was followed by Virginia and Kentucky.

Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said the state “will not aid a commission that is at best a waste of taxpayer money and at worst an attempt to legitimize voter suppression efforts across the country.”

Utah’s lieutenant governor said Friday he would turn over voter information but not other sensitive information, such as the final four numbers of Social Security numbers, to the commission.

In Virginia, the governor, Democrat Terry McAuliffe, also criticized the commission in harsh terms.

“At best this commission was set up as a pretext to validate Donald Trump’s alternative election facts, and at worst is a tool to commit large-scale voter suppression,” he said in a statement.

In New Mexico, efforts to institute voter ID have largely struck out in the state Legislature, typically failing in their first committee hearing. When Republicans had a majority in the state House of Representatives in 2015, a voter ID bill passed the chamber days before the session adjourned, but died  in the Senate.

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