Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan is denying a sweeping request by a federal voter commission for registration information of all voters in Arizona.
President Donald Trump created the Advisory Commission on Election Integrity in May after he claimed without evidence that 2 million to 3 million people voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election. Last week, the commission sent letters to secretaries of state of all 50 states requesting all "publicly available" information of voters including names, addresses, birth dates, party affiliation, and last four digits of Social Security numbers.
The purpose of the request was "in order for the Commission to fully analyze vulnerabilities and issues related to voter registration and voting," the letter stated.
Reagan said after she received the request letter on Monday she conferred with her attorneys and decided that releasing any information to the commission would not be "in the best interests of the state."
“I share the concerns of many Arizonans that the Commission’s request could implicate serious privacy concerns,” Reagan said in a statement released to the public. She added that "federal law does not give the commission authority to unilaterally acquire and disseminate such sensitive information."
The announcement is a surprising change of course. As 12 News previously reported, Reagan and Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes were considering the release of limited information including names, addresses and voter registration history, in accordance with Arizona Public Records Law. They never considered releasing more sensitive information including Social Security numbers and birth dates because doing so would be illegal.
As recently as Monday morning, Reagan told 12 News in a recorded phone interview she was planning to provide some information to the commission.
"They are only going to get, if they request it the proper way, the exact same stuff any member of the public would be able to get," Reagan said during the interview. Reagan said during the interview she was conferring with attorneys before making a final decision.
Late Monday afternoon, Reagan announced she was denying the request entirely.
“Under normal circumstances, limited voter registration records could be provided to a member of the public upon payment of the requisite fee under Arizona law along with a statement of non-commercial use. But this appears to be no normal request," Reagan said in a statement explaining her decision. "Centralizing sensitive voter registration information from every U.S. state is a potential target for nefarious actors who may be intent on further undermining our electoral process."
Reagan also expressed concern about about the government having "one big list of voter information," even basic identifying information.
"We know that from the election last year, there was a foreign government trying to get into our databases," Reagan said during the interview. "One of the reasons why it was kept secure was because it's not all in one place. It's decentralized. And that is a strength of our electoral system across the country."
Arizona now joins more than 20 states, including Virginia, Kentucky, California and New York, that have declined to provide some or all of the information requested by the voter commission.
On Saturday, President Trump lashed out on Twitter at those states for not cooperating.
"Numerous states are refusing to give information to the very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL. What are they trying to hide?" Trump wrote.