Staff and wire reports
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner has no intention of releasing personal information of West Virginia voters to a White House commission investigating President Donald Trump’s allegations of voter fraud, a spokesman said Monday.
Warner’s office received a request from the commission on July 3 requesting voter information as a part of the investigation, said Michael Queen, Warner’s deputy chief of staff for external affairs and director of communications.
“We’re not going to do anything that would cause West Virginia voters to lose confidence in our ability to provide fair and fraud-free elections,” Queen said.
Queen said names and addresses that the office routinely releases to candidates, political parties and grassroots organizations may still have to be made available to the public.
At least 16 other states and the District of Columbia have said they will refuse to provide the information sought by the commission. The other states are undecided or will provide some of the data, according to a tally of every state by The Associated Press.
The White House commission investigating President Donald Trump’s allegations of voter fraud and heightened concern about Russian attempts to interfere in U.S. elections requested data from all 50 states starting late last month.
The Department of Homeland Security said last fall that hackers believed to be Russian agents targeted voter registration systems in more than 20 states. And a leaked National Security Agency document from May said Russian military intelligence had attempted to hack into voter registration software used in eight states.
Queen said Monday that Warner and his staff take the care of voter registration and voter files as a serious matter.
Trump has repeatedly stated without proof that he believes millions of fraudulent ballots were cast in the November election, when he carried the Electoral College but lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton.
The commission was launched to investigate those claims and is being chaired by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who sent the information requests.
“I do think that this is an odd time to be forming a national database of some kind if we’re so concerned about security,” said Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill, a Democrat.
The U.S. does not have a federalized voting system, relying instead on 9,000 different voting jurisdictions and more than 185,000 individual precincts. Officials believe that makes it difficult for hackers to have any major effect on the vote. If Kobach succeeds in obtaining the information he seeks, it could gather voter data for the entire U.S. in one centralized place.
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