Oklahoma election officials say they will hand over publicly available voter rolls to a federal commission investigating alleged voter fraud, but will not give the commission partial Social Security numbers it requested.
On Thursday, the Oklahoma State Election Board received a letter from Kris Kobach, Kansas’ secretary of state and vice chair of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.
The letter, postdated for Wednesday and erroneously sent to Oklahoma Secretary of State Dave Lopez, asks that the state provide the presidential commission with an array of voter data, including names, addresses, birth dates, political affiliations, voting history, felony convictions, military status and the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers.
“It is crucial for the commission to consider your input as it collects data and identifies areas of opportunity to increase the integrity of our election systems,” Kobach wrote to Lopez. He said the data will be used to “fully analyze vulnerabilities and issues related to voter registration and voting.”
Oklahoma’s voter roll is a public document under the Oklahoma Open Records Act and the state’s election board routinely makes it available to political candidates and news organizations.
“So, what we will give them is a copy of the same database that anyone could get from us,” said Bryan Dean, public information officer for the Oklahoma State Election Board.
Social Security numbers — or even partial Social Security numbers — are not public information, however. Dean said the election board will not turn those over to the commission.
“We are not allowed to give that out,” he said.
Trump and Kobach have alleged, without corroborating evidence, that millions of people voted illegally in the 2016 elections, a claim that Democrats and many Republicans consider dubious. Democratic election officials in several states said Thursday they would not turn over voter data to a presidential commission they view with great suspicion.
“Given Secretary Kobach’s history, we find it very difficult to have confidence in the work of this commission,” said Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill, president of the National Association of Secretaries of State.
In addition to the letter from Kobach, the state also received a letter from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights division Thursday. The letter was correctly addressed to election board chairman Steve Curry and election secretary Paul Ziriax.
“As part of our nationwide enforcement efforts, we are reviewing voter registration list maintenance procedures in each state covered by the NVRA,” wrote Christian Herren, the Justice Department’s chief of voting, a reference to the National Voter Registration Act.
Herren requested from the state of Oklahoma information on how election officials maintain an accurate voter registration list and “a description of the steps that you have taken to ensure that the state’s list maintenance program has been properly carried out in full compliance with the NVRA.”
Dean said the election board will fully comply with the DOJ’s request because the information they requested is public and does not contain individual voter data.
“They are asking for policies and procedures, which are in state law and our administrative rules,” he said. “I think we are also sending them some of the instructional materials we give out. All of that is public.”