The Trump administration ripped into what it called “fake news” reports Wednesday about states refusing to cooperate with its request for voter registration data.
The statement from election integrity commission vice chairman Kris Kobach, Kansas’s secretary of state, comes as an increasing number of states refuse to provide all of the voter information requested by President Trump’s panel.
Kobach announced Wednesday that 36 states have agreed to or are considering cooperating with the White House’s request.
“While there are news reports that 44 states have ‘refused to provide voter information to the Commission, those reports are patently false, more ‘fake news,'” Kobach wrote.
“Only 14 states and the District of Columbia have refused the Commission’s request for publicly available voter information.”
That request, sent to states last week, prompted serious pushback from many secretaries of state, many of whom accused the commission of overstepping its bounds.
The original request called on states to turn over publicly available information from voters and some information that is private in many states — such as the last-four digits of a voter’s Social Security number.
The discrepancy between news reports about states refusing to provide the information and the administration’s count comes down to what qualifies as a refusal.
By the administration’s count, any state willing to turn over publicly available information is complying, even if state officials had criticized the commission in the process. Media counts of states refusing to comply with the commission’s request include those that have refused to provide private information or states that have directed the commission to buy the data in the same way that members of the public can.
Top officials in 14 states and the District of Columbia have said that they would not comply with the request, according to public statements, a count that jibes with Kobach’s statement.
But the discrepancy hinges on the actions of the other 36 states that Kobach considers to be complying with the request.
Officials in 23 states have said they would only release publicly available information, even as some blasted the endeavor. But Kobach’s commission counts that as compliance, despite the hesitation expressed.
While Wolf repeatedly criticized Trump and said “the commonwealth cannot share this information,” he also notes that any citizen can purchase a public voter file online for $20.
The remaining states have either said they are considering the request or have not made public statements. While the administration included the states still considering its request in its compliance count, many news organizations have treated the hesitation as resistance.