The attorney general of Maryland released a blistering statement criticizing President Donald Trump’s voter integrity commission on Monday, joining a growing number of states in rejecting the group’s request for voter roll data.
Brian Frosh, the attorney general, said in a statement that the commission’s request that Maryland officials provide them with voter data is “repugnant” and “appears designed only to intimidate voters and to indulge Trump’s fantasy that he won the popular vote.”
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The group asked officials in every state and Washington, D.C., to send them information about registered voters including their voting history and personal information such as their dates of birth and the last four digits of their social security numbers.
While the commission had requested “publicly available voter roll data,” officials in states of both parties have balked at the request for such detailed information and the commission’s plan to publish it. Democrats, unsurprisingly, led the way in rejecting it, but red states have also joined in. The Republican secretary of state in Mississippi went so far as to respond by suggesting that the federal officials making the request jump into the Gulf of Mexico.
Frosh said Maryland’s assistant attorneys general have advised the state elections board that the commission’s request goes against state law.
The commission, headed by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, is tasked with investigating instances of voter fraud. The commission was named after Trump claimed without evidence that millions of people voted illegally for Hillary Clinton in the election. Experts and local officials have said that claim is false.
Given that voter fraud is exceedingly rare in the U.S., according to experts, critics charge that the commission’s work could ultimately be used to justify measures that make it more difficult for citizens to vote and disproportionately affect minorities and the poor, such as voter ID laws.
Its defenders say the group’s research is worthwhile given that voter fraud does occasionally occur. Trump defended the group on Twitter this weekend and questioned the motives of the states refusing to comply with its request.
Kobach, a Republican running for governor of Kansas, is a vocal proponent of stricter voting regulations, including laws that would require people to provide proof of citizenship to register.
Frosh filed a lawsuit against Trump earlier this summer, alleging that his business conflicts violate the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution.