Public Interest Legal Foundation President and General Counsel J. Christian Adams talks with WMAL’s Larry O’Connor about states refusing to release voter registration information to President Trump’s Commission on Election Integrity — and why their stonewalling efforts are going to fail:
Adams, a former Voting Section attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, explains that federal laws require states to provide voter registration data upon request. And those federal laws trump state laws.
“People don’t like their dirty laundry to be aired. I can understand why some election officials don’t want the information to get to the commission. But this is public information. We [PILF] had to sue three Virginia counties in federal court to get the information from them.
“The federal law under Motor Voter gives individuals, as well as governments if they so ask, the right to this information.
“Whatever happened to the transparency crowd? Or the Hashtag Science group who wants to know the facts about things?”
The commission’s request letter specifically asks states only for “publicly available voter roll data… if publicly available under the laws of your state,” and clearly articulates the purpose for its request: “to fully analyze vulnerabilities and issues related to voter registration and voting.”
Yet some states, like Maryland, are claiming their state laws prevent them from sharing the data. The most important thing to understand about those claims, Adams says, is that federal law is supreme to state law.
“Federal law says that states upon request have to give this information to the federal government. . . . Not just Motor Voter but civil rights laws going back to 1960… That law is still the law. And that’s why these state stonewalling efforts are going to fail.”
Other states are suggesting they’ll ignore the request simply because they disagree with the commission’s purpose – or its personnel. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who’s not even the state official with authority over the request, says he won’t comply because “the commission is based on the specious and false notion that there was widespread voter fraud last November.”
Misleading media reports to the contrary, most states in fact are only withholding what they consider “private” data as is specifically exempted from the request – primarily Social Security numbers, which Adams says aren’t critical for the commission’s purpose.
Adams notes that the people who don’t want to give up voter roll information are usually the same people who say there’s no voter fraud.
“It’s funny to suddenly have people who don’t want to get to the truth – it’s going to be a short-lived resistance. . . .
“This is public information under federal law… It’s really unfortunate that, whether it’s Democrats or Republicans, some folks are opposed to getting to the truth.”