New Jersey sending most info requested by Trump voting panel
Aug. 18, 2017
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's administration is turning over voters' names, addresses, phone numbers and other public information in response to a request from President Donald Trump's voter commission.
A request for the last four digits of Social Security numbers was denied because it's not public under state law, Robert Giles, the head of the state's division of elections, wrote in a letter responding to commission Vice Chairman Kris Kobach this week.
Democratic lawmakers and a civil liberties group demanded that the state refuse to release any information requested by the commission. It was established by Trump to investigate allegations of voter fraud in the 2016 elections, but Democrats across the country have blasted the voter commission as a biased panel that is merely looking for ways to suppress votes.
An Associated Press tally shows election officials in 14 states and Washington, D.C., are denying the requests.
Some Democratic officials have refused to comply with the data request, saying it invades privacy and is based on false claims of fraud. Trump, who created the commission through executive order in May, lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton, but has alleged without evidence that up to 5 million people voted illegally.
Some officials are concerned it could create a target for hackers, but the commission said individual voters' information will be kept private. The information was being uploaded through what the election commission described as a "secure link," according to emails obtained by Observer New Jersey .
New Jersey's elections are overseen by Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, but she recused herself from matters related to this year's governor's race, in which she is running to replace Christie.
She said in a statement posted to Facebook earlier this summer that "protecting the integrity of elections is a top priority," and that the division of elections policy is to "protect private personal information and only provide publicly available data to those who file a proper open public records request."
Giles' original response said that only public information would be given out and only if it follows "appropriate legal process for information requests." In New Jersey, state agencies typically require that people submit an Open Public Records Act request, but it wasn't clear if Kobach or anyone from the commission had done that.
Giles responded on Wednesday directly to Kobach's June and July letters requesting the information. A spokeswoman didn't respond to a request on whether an open public records request was filed.