OPINION: Trump takes up the Kansas voter witchhunt
© Getty Images

What if in 2009 the Obama Administration had asked every state in the country to give them a list of all of their voters with their voting history, political party and last four digits of their Social Security number? There is no question what the reaction would have been: Breathless outrage from Republicans across the country.

No Republican secretary of state or governor would have complied. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach would have found every television camera within 1,000 miles to tell the world that this is federal government overreach and that President Obama must be stopped.   


But this week, Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PencePence: Chief Justice Roberts 'has been a disappointment to conservatives' Students at school system Pence called 'forefront' of reopening now in quarantine Presidential debates demonstrate who has what it takes MORE and Secretary Kobach requested that very information as part of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. This is an unprecedented and troubling move that not only puts the personal information of all voters at risk, it will pave the way for eligible voters who have been voting for years to be kicked off the voter rolls. This is nothing short of a national witch hunt that Secretary Kobach started in Kansas and is now being elevated by the president.

Pence and Kobach are claiming this is about securing our elections. Instead it could make the personal information and political affiliation of millions of American voters public.

If the Trump Administration gets what it asks for, anyone could have easy access to a list of every voter in the country that could include their address, date of birth, voting history and political party. It would take just one open records request and someone could put that entire database online for every corporation to see. So if this happens, expect a lot more junk mail. Door to door salespeople could even come back in style. And that’s not the worst that could happen.  

What’s even more disturbing is that every criminal in the country could be able to find your personal information whenever they want. Every foreign government could learn personal information about every American voter.  The Administration is requesting enough personal information to apply for a credit card or a bank loan. No matter your political affiliation, this should scare you.  

Governors, Secretaries of State and election officials across the country should refuse to comply with the commission’s request.

At least 19 states are already refusing to comply, including Republicans. That's hopeful but everyone should be standing up to the president for their constituents.

They should protect the personal information of their voters at all costs, even if it means going to court to protect it. If a politician would deny a request from President Obama, they should deny the same request from President Trump.

Beyond these privacy, financial, criminal and political issues, the request smacks of the playbook Republicans have been using for years — peddling the myth of so-called voter fraud. 

No legitimate study has found any evidence of widespread or even more than anecdotal fraud.

Despite President Trump saying a Pew Charitable Trust report is evidence of a fraud problem, that study’s own author, and indeed a look at the study, disproves the claim. 

It’s Fourth of July weekend, a time when we should be celebrating our democracy and the right to vote that Americans have died for throughout our history. Instead, Americans across the country now have to worry why the President of the United States is trying to figure out their political party and what he’s going to do with that information.

Abe Rakov is the Executive Director of Let America Vote. He previously served as the Deputy Secretary of State of Missouri and was campaign manager for Jason Kander's bid to unseat Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntSkepticism grows over Friday deadline for coronavirus deal GOP expects Senate to be in session next week without coronavirus deal House Republicans introduce legislation to give states 0 million for elections MORE.

The views of contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.