July 27, 2017

NM SOS shoots down second info request from Trump voter commission

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver

New Mexico’s Secretary of State still says she will not give up information to a controversial voter task force put together by President Donald Trump, after a second request.

“As I’ve said before, 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 in a statement. “Because the Commission has still not demonstrated that the data will be used for a lawful purpose under New Mexico law, provided any plan for ensuring that voters’ personal data will be secured, or explained how comparing insufficient data will produce any meaningful conclusions, I won’t release any New Mexicans’ voter information.”

The commission’s letter cited a federal court ruling on a case against the commission seeking to bar it from receiving the information from states throughout the country. The court ruled against that attempt.

This is the second time Toulouse Oliver has denied  a request from the president’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Like the first request, commission vice chair and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach wrote the letter.

Critics have said the commission is a way to suppress voters.

“My June 29 letter only requested information that is already available to the public under the laws of your State, which is information that States regularly provide to political candidates, journalists and other interested members of the public,” Kobach wrote.

That request sought information like social security numbers and birthdates of registered voters, prompting concerns. To make matters worse, the commission had pledged to make information  public, raising alarms with privacy advocates and others.

Now, Kobach claims such “personally identifiable information” will be kept secure then disposed “as permitted by federal law.”

“The only information that will be made public are statistical conclusions drawn from the data, other general observations that may be drawn from the data, and any correspondence that you may send to the Commission in response to the narrative questions enumerated in the June 28 letter,” Kobach wrote.

Story continues below

Toulouse Oliver was one of those who was not convinced.

“When you consider that some 4,000 Colorado residents have cancelled their voter registration because their Secretary of State has indicated he will cooperate with the Trump Commission’s request for personal data, the risk of that happening in New Mexico outweighs any perceived benefit of participating,” Toulouse Oliver wrote. “As New Mexico’s Chief Election Official, I will continue to ensure the integrity of our elections while protecting the voting rights and personal privacy of our voters.”

Toulouse Oliver isn’t the only one. Huffington Post reported California Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes also continued to refuse to provide the information.

Kobach  has focused on voter fraud before, though has been unable to find many cases. He has also  lost four court battles with the American Civil Liberties Union over his actions, which the civil rights organization referred to as voter suppression. The group also calls Kobach the “king of voter suppression.”

Earlier this week, a federal judge upheld a fine against Kobach for making “patently misleading representations” to a federal court. Kobach made the misleading claims over a binder he carried into a meeting with Trump during the transition. Kobach carried the binder with a document showing proposals for Trump’s presidency, including on immigration and voter issues, which was photographed by the Associated Press.

Trump has repeatedly said he believes there were millions of votes cast illegally.

  Kris Kobach 2nd Request for Voter Information by sam levine on Scribd