NJ isn’t helping Trump’s voter fraud panel with info so far — Will it?
TRENTON — The ACLU is urging the state's Board of Elections to reject a request from a presidential commission asking for voter information.
The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity was created in May — in the wake of President Donald Trump's unproven claim that millions of people voted illegally — to "promote fair and honest Federal elections" and is headed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. The commission wants to take a close look at the registration and voting processes used in federal elections in an effort to find any evidence of possible fraud in the 2016 presidential election.
A letter from the presidential commission gives secretaries of state about two weeks to provide voter data and other information, including any evidence of fraud and election-related crimes in their states.
New Jersey is one of six states that hasn't said whether it will comply. In all, 44 states headed by Republican and Democratic administrations alike are refusing to turn over some or all information, CNN reports.
ACLU-NJ Senior Staff Attorney Alexander Shalom said in a statement New Jersey should not participate in what he calls a "sham process that will be used to falsely justify attacks on voting rights."
Shalom said Kobach is a "known proponent of voter suppression."
CNN, in another article, described Kobach as "a leading voice nationally in trying to combat voter fraud, which studies have shown is statistically close to nonexistent.
Kobach has fought unsuccessfully in court to require voter registration forms to include proof of citizenship. In Kansas, he's implemented some of the nation's toughest voter ID laws, which critics say also prevent legitimate voters from exercising their rights.
"We should be doing everything we can to encourage, rather than hinder, participation in our democracy. We strive to have fair, safe, and transparent elections, and for that reason New Jersey must not hand over voter information to this commission," Shalom said.
New Jersey is still considering the request, according to Robert Giles, director of the state's Division of Elections.
"To date, no information has been released nor will any future information be released that is not publicly available or does not follow the appropriate legal process for information requests," Giles said.
Lt. Gov Kim Guadagno, who is also the Secretary of State, wrote on her campaign's Facebook page that "protecting the integrity of elections is a top priority, but it has been the policy of the Division of Elections to protect private personal information and only provide publicly available data to those who file a proper open public records request," Guadagno said in a statement posted on Facebook on Sunday. "However, since I am recused from matters regarding the Division of Elections because I am also running for governor, I am not involved with handling the federal government's request for voter information."
The Board of Elections comes under the Secretary of State's office.
Giles said the deadline is July 14.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Friday his state will not provide the information as not to "perpetuate the myth voter fraud played a role in our election." Pennsylvania will sell the Commission information that is already available for purchase by the public.
Twenty-one states in the AP's survey said they will provide partial information.
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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.
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