Trump request for voter names triggers Arizona showdown

Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes says he is wary of a request from the Trump administration for voter information.

Arizona's top elections officials are on a collision course as they await a Trump commission's sweeping request for records on all of the state's 3.6 million registered voters.

Republican Secretary of State Michele Reagan says she will largely comply. 

Democratic Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes, the top elections official in the nation's fourth-largest county, says he won't hand over any information without privacy guarantees.

It's unclear whether Reagan could overrule Fontes in releasing voter information. She consulted Friday with county recorders around the state.

In a tweet Friday, President Donald Trump called out elections officials around the country who were balking at his request:

Numerous states are refusing to give information to the very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL. What are they trying to hide?

The president's Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is investigating Trump's unfounded allegations that 3 million illegal votes were cast in the 2016 presidential election.

The request for voter information is coming from commission vice chairman Kris Kobach, who has worked unsuccessfully for years to prove voter fraud is widespread. 

Kobach sent a letter last week to the top elections officers in all 50 states, seeking all "publicly available voter roll data," including voters' full names, dates of birth, political party, and the last four digits of Social Security numbers.

Kobach's letter also says the voter information will be made available to the public.

Reagan issued a statement Friday she will comply with the request, but will not provide voter information that must remain private under Arizona law.

Arizona will not provide the personal identifying information of Arizona's voters to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.  We will only make available the same redacted information that is available to the general public through a public records request.  Social Security numbers, Date of Birth and identifying information such as Mother’s maiden name will not be transmitted.

Reagan's spokesman said she had not received the letter as of Friday night, so she had not formally responded to the request.

Fontes said Kobach's plan to make Arizona's voting records public is an apparent violation of state law governing the use of voter rolls.

"That gives me deep, deep pause," Fontes said. "We'll need to get assurances from them. We want to maintain the security of voter information as far as the law allows. "

The first-term county recorder said his office got calls Friday from voters who wanted their names removed from the rolls, after they learned of the request from news reports.

"It's a scare tactic," said Fontes, a Democrat elected last fall. "They want to intimidate voters."

Chandler attorney Thomas Ryan, who has filed citizen challenges against government officials in the past, said Kobach's request would likely sweep up countless individuals, such as judges, law enforcement officers, and domestic violence victims, whose personal information should be kept private.

Here is the Arizona voter information that would be provided to the Trump commission:

-Voter ID number

-Full name

-Phone number

-Address

-Party registration history

-Date of registration

-Voting history (elections in which votes were cast, not how a person voted)

-Early voter status

-Birth year

The Kobach request is not unheard of. Political parties and advocacy groups request Arizona voter rolls for use in campaigns. Journalists often request voting histories of individual candidates.
 
But the breadth and apparent purpose of the Kobach request is unprecedented.

Kobach, who was the author of Arizona's SB 1070, at the time the toughest immigration crackdown in the country, has said he's looking for evidence of undocumented immigrants casting votes.

Kobach has a poor track record mining the kind of large voter database he wants to amass from all 50 states.

He created the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, a database of millions of registered voters shared by more than two dozen states, including Arizona.

The database's professed aim is to weed out voter fraud. But news reports show the program has uncovered scant evidence of fraud while disenfranchising suspect voters.

In a tweet late Friday, the ACLU of Arizona said: "We are closely monitoring this situation to ensure that any release of data does not threaten Arizonans' private information."

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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