Maryland state lawmakers are asking Gov. Larry Hogan to refuse a request for voter information from a federal commission set up by President Donald Trump to study alleged voter fraud.
More than 40 lawmakers signed a letter sent to the governor Friday urging him not to provide the commission with data such as full names of registered voters, dates of birth, party registration, voting history and the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers.
The letter says the chairman of the federal commission, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, has a history of disenfranchising voters and that the commission was formed to investigate allegations of voter fraud that have already been refuted by bipartisan leaders and elections experts.
“This commission is essentially a witch hunt aimed at undermining faith in our democratic process,” the letter says.
MD legislators feel strongly that voter personal info shouldn’t be shared w the voter suppression commission. 49 now signed onto this ltr. pic.twitter.com/vge81QXcnm
— EricLuedtke (@EricLuedtke) July 3, 2017
Twenty-three Montgomery County state senators and delegates initially signed the letter, while others added their names after it was sent.
The lawmakers state that while the voter data is public information, it is only shared for electoral campaigns with registered Maryland voters who must by law sign an affidavit affirming how they intend to use the information.
“The federal commission which is requesting this data has signed no affidavit as required,” the letter notes. “A federal commission is not a registered Maryland voter. And the data are being requested for purposes which are clearly not electoral.”
Kobach sent the commission’s request for information to all 50 states last week. As of Friday, leaders in 27 states publicly expressed concern about releasing the information and some said it would violate the laws of their states.
In a tweet Saturday, Trump pushed back against the states that said they would withhold the information.
“Numerous states are refusing to give information to the very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL. What are they trying to hide?” Trump tweeted.
It’s not yet clear how Maryland will handle the request. The Baltimore Sun reported that Linda Lamone, Maryland’s election administrator, has reached out to Attorney General Brian Frosh for advice on how to proceed. The governor’s office noted the state’s Board of Elections operates as an independent agency.
We are working with the Office of the Attorney General on the appropriate response to the letter from the Presidential Advisory Commission.
— Maryland Elections (@md_sbe) June 30, 2017
Virginia Gov. Terry McAulliffe said in a statement last week he has no intention of honoring the request. Meanwhile, Republican Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said the federal commission officials “can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico … Mississippi residents should celebrate Independence Day and our state’s right to protect the privacy of our citizens by conducting our own electoral processes.”
Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous echoed Hosemann on Saturday, saying Hogan should tell Kobach “to take a leap off the Bay Bridge!”
If Mississippi’s Sec. of State is telling Kobach to go jump in the Gulf, MD’s Guv should be telling him to take a leap off the Bay Bridge! https://t.co/7fjZQaVXuY
— Ben Jealous (@BenJealous) July 1, 2017
UPDATE – 12:15 p.m. – Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh released the following statement Monday, calling the request “repugnant.”
UPDATE 2 – 12:50 p.m. – Maryland elections administrator Lamone denies federal request: