NC election officials to turn over public voter data to Trump panel; some states won’t

Updated: Jul. 1, 2017 at 12:28 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC (Jim Morrill/The Charlotte Observer) - North Carolina elections officials plan to turn over state voter records to President Donald Trump's voter fraud commission, despite critics who fear it could be used to suppress voting.

This week the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity asked all 50 states for their voter rolls as well as voters' dates of birth, felony records and the last four digits of their Social Security numbers.

Several states, including Virginia, California and Kentucky, have refused.

North Carolina election officials say they'll give out information that's already publicly available. That does not include Social Security numbers, dates of birth and some other information the commission requested.

"We understand concerns about voters' privacy," Kim Westbrook Strach, executive director of the North Carolina's Bipartisan State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement. said Friday. "The State Board will provide to the Commission publicly available data as already required under state law."

Trump created the commission in March through an executive order. Chaired by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, its goal is to "promote fair and honest federal elections." Trump has alleged that more than 3 million people voted illegally last year.

But California Secretary of State Alex Padilla has said complying with the commission's request "would only to legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud made by the president, the vice president, and Mr. Kobach."

Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn said she believes the commission's goal is to suppress voting. She said the commission "is nothing more than a partisan attempt to manipulate our voting processes that will make it harder for eligible Americans to vote.

"We are pleased that so many election officials have already spoken out with their concerns about the requests they received this week," Flynn said in a statement.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper said he has concerns about the commission's request.

"Integrity of our elections is critical, and a recent State Board of Elections investigation already found there was no evidence of significant voter fraud in North Carolina," he said in a statement.

"My staff has told the State Board of Elections that we should not participate in providing sensitive information beyond what is public record … I have concerns that it is an effort to justify the President's false claims about voter fraud."