Nearly half of the US states have refused to provide President Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission with information about last year’s presidential election.
At least 24 states have so far either fought or outright turned down administration requests to hand over voter registration data, according to US media reports.
Earlier this week, the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity sent out letters to 50 states asking their secretaries of state for names, addresses, birth dates and party affiliations of registered voters.
Signed by commission vice chairman and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a Republican, the letter also asked for felony convictions, military statuses, the last four digits of Social Security numbers and voting records dating back to 2006.
The detailed list drew criticism from state officials, with many of them voicing concern and even absolute opposition to the request.
Kentucky’s Democratic Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said she would not comply with what the government had asked her to do.
“The president created his election commission based on the false notion that ‘voter fraud’ is a widespread issue — it is not,” Grimes said. “I do not intend to release Kentuckians’ sensitive personal data to the federal government.”
Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, a Republican, took a similar line, mockingly telling members of the commission to “go jump in the Gulf of Mexico.”
The same reaction was echoed by Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat. He said in a tweet that his state would “not participate in this systematic effort to suppress the vote.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, both Democrats, also made it clear that their states would not provide confidential information to Trump.
Cuomo said Trump’s claim of voter fraud was nothing but a “myth.”
Wisconsin, Colorado and Texas were some of the states that accepted the request but said they would not give such confidential data as date of birth and social security numbers.
The Republican billionaire, who was inaugurated in January as the 45th president of the US, scored about 3 million votes less than his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, in their November 8 face-off. However, he was able to seal the victory by winning the Electoral College vote, 304-227.
Trump claimed he would have defeated Clinton in the popular vote as well if it was not for the many illegal immigrants who had voted for “a large-scale voter fraud” in some states.
In February, he said he would establish a special commission to investigate the issue and Vice President Mike Pence would head it.