Under the Dome

NC is handing over some voter information to Trump’s commission on voter fraud

President-elect Donald Trump greets Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, as he arrive at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, in Bedminster, N.J.
President-elect Donald Trump greets Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, as he arrive at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, in Bedminster, N.J. AP

North Carolina will provide publicly available information about voters to the commission formed by President Donald Trump to look for voter fraud and promote fair elections.

The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, announced by Trump in May, sent a June 28 letter requesting extensive information on voters in the state. The letter went to North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, although Marshall’s office does not handle elections in the state.

The commission asked for the full first, middle and last names of all registered voters, along with their addresses, dates of birth, political party affiliations, the last four digits of their Social Security numbers and their voting history. The commission also requested other information on voters, including any felony convictions and military status.

North Carolina’s Bipartisan State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement announced Friday that it must cooperate with the request under state law, though it would not provide Social Security numbers, birth dates or driver’s license numbers.

“We understand concerns about voters’ privacy. The State Board will provide to the Commission publicly available data as already required under state law,” Kim Westbrook Strach, the board’s executive director, said in a statement.

Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, said the state should not participate beyond what is public record.

“My staff has told the State Board of Elections that we should not participate in providing sensitive information beyond what is public record as it is unnecessary, and because I have concerns that it is an effort to justify the President's false claims about voter fraud,” Cooper said in a statement.

An audit by the Board of Elections found that 508 ineligible voters cast ballots in 2016. More than 4.8 million voters participated in the election. The agency said the incidents weren’t necessarily cases of voter fraud because voters may not have known they were committing a crime.

“It’s important to recognize that suspected cases of ineligible voters casting ballots and/or committing fraud represents a tiny fraction,” the report says.

Some states, including California, New York and Virginia, have announced they would not provide data to the presidential commission, citing studies that have concluded voter fraud is not a widespread problem. Connecticut, like North Carolina, plans to provide publicly available data.

“States are right to balk at turning over massive reams of personal information in what clearly is a campaign to suppress the vote,” said Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.

Trump won the Electoral College and the presidency in November, but lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Trump has attributed his loss in the popular vote to illegal votes.

Vice President Mike Pence is the chairman of the commission, and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is the vice chairman.

Kay Stimson, a spokeswoman for the National Association of Secretaries of State, said the organization has asked the White House for more information about Kobach’s commission, and is still waiting for that information.

She said the commission will be a major topic of the National Association of Secretaries of State’s convention next week in Indianapolis.