A member of President Trump's voter fraud commission warned other members of the panel against requesting private voter information from all 50 states last week, a decision that has since led to backlash, the Huffington Post reported Tuesday.
The commission last week sent out letters to all 50 states requesting names, addresses, birth dates and party affiliations of registered voters in each state. It also sought felony convictions, military statuses, the last four digits of Social Security numbers and voting records dating back to 2006.
According to the Huffington Post report, Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap (D) recommended against asking states for private information.
While the request for public information was legal, Dunlap cautioned that asking for sensitive voter information could come across as a threat.
“I said, you want to be careful how you go at this because election officials are very sensitive guardians of this information, so you want to make sure you’re asking for it, not demanding it, and that it really should only cover the information that is publicly available in your state,” Dunlap said.
The request, which may have violated federal requirements on requests to states, asked for the full names, addresses and political affiliations of voters, as well as the last four digits of their Social Security numbers.
Forty-four states have now said they will not turn over all of the voter data requested by the committee.
The commission was formed after President Trump claimed that widespread voter fraud across the country cost him the popular vote in the general election against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden sends 'best wishes' to Clinton following hospitalization The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Jan. 6 panel flexes its muscle MORE.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), the commission’s vice chairman, said “it’s idiotic” that a majority of states have refused to comply with the request. “These states make the information available to the public, but they don’t want a presidential commission to take a serious look at it? That makes no sense at all.”
Despite the refusals of many states to release information, Dunlap did not believe the letter was mishandled.
“I think it speaks more to the polarization of the country as to how it was received," he said. "I think maybe that was underestimated a little bit by everybody, including me.”