Donald Trump stands with Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
Mike Segar / Reuters
More than 20 states as of Friday were refusing to fully cooperate with President Trump's efforts to investigate alleged voter fraud, many of them bristling at lending credence to a debunked allegation, let alone divulging sensitive data of their voters to a federal commission.
In all, the list of states pushing back against the request for data on voters by the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity had grown to 22 by Friday afternoon. And the blowback was coming from both sides of the partisan aisle.
“My reply would be: They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico, and Mississippi is a great state to launch from,” Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, a Republican, said in a statement Friday regarding the request. “Mississippi residents should celebrate Independence Day and our state's right to protect the privacy of our citizens by conducting our own electoral processes.”
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who is vice chairman of the commission, gave states on Wednesday about two weeks to hand over roughly a dozen data points of voters who participated in the 2016 election, including birthdates, the last four digits of Social Security numbers, voting history, military status, and information about felony convictions.
Gerald Herbert / AP
Trump, who lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton, formed the commission months after he claimed, without evidence, that 3 to 5 million people voted illegally in the 2016 election.
Kobach's letter also asks states to share any evidence of fraud or election-related crimes, along with suggestions of how to improve election integrity, so that the commission can “fully analyze vulnerabilities and issues related to voter registration and voting.”
But it's been a tough sell, particularly when it comes to sharing sensitive data, such as party affiliation and Social Security information.
The lack of any bonafide evidence to support Trump's premise for the investigation also prompted widespread backlash.
The states that have said they will totally refuse to comply with the request so far include California, Virginia, Kentucky, New York, Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Tennessee.
“NY refuses to perpetuate the myth of voter fraud played a role in the our election,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted Friday. “We will not comply with this request.”
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla also argued that responding to the request would only legitimize debunked allegations.
“California's participation 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,” he said in a statement.
As of Friday afternoon, the states that saying they would comply, but only as it pertains to publicly available information, included Rhode Island, Arizona, Indiana, Georgia, Connecticut, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Utah, Vermont, and Texas.
Voters in Los Angeles line up on Nov. 8, 2016.
Nick Ut / AP
“I will not release Social Security information or any information that was requested by Secretary Kobach regarding felony status, military status, or overseas citizen information,' Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea said.
Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, meanwhile, said they that while would not turn over the voter data, the commission was welcome to purchase what was publicly available.
Many state officials have also argued that the commission's efforts would be better spent on upgrading aging voting systems and preventing outside hacks and meddling from foreign entities, such as Russia.
Representatives for Kobach's office did not immediately return a request for comment Friday.