WASHINGTON — Gov. Bruce Rauner on Wednesday dodged questions about whether Illinois should turn over personal information about Illinois voters to President Donald Trump’s new election commission, while the Illinois State Board of Elections will wait until Aug. 22 to decide whether to comply.
Rauner, at a press conference in Hegewisch on Chicago’s far South Side, did not respond when repeatedly asked if Illinois should send the data requested by Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Voter Integrity, ducking taking a stand on the increasingly controversial request from the new panel.
Meanwhile, Cook County Clerk David Orr, whose office oversees elections in suburban Cook, on Wednesday urged Illinois not to comply with commission.
“I strongly encourage the Illinois Board of Elections, as well as my fellow elections administrators, to be cautious of the motives of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Voter Integrity and not comply with this dangerous request,” Orr said in a statement.
The Trump panel is co-chaired by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Ken Kobach.
Kobach on June 28 sent a letter to all 50 states asking them to send to the commission by July 14 all publicly available voter data including names, birth dates, political party, voting history from 2006 onward, felony convictions and the last four digits of the Social Security number.
Social Security numbers are not available to the public under Illinois law.
Kobach mistakenly sent his letter requesting voter data to Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, who does not have jurisdiction over state election records.
White’s spokesman, Dave Druker, said the letter, received on Wednesday, was forwarded to the state elections board. Board General counsel Ken Menzel told the Chicago Sun-Times on Wednesday that the matter will be on the agenda at its next monthly meeting on Aug. 22.
The state board did not take it up at its Monday meeting because the letter had not arrived, although the contents of the letter had been widely reported because it was sent to all 50 states.
Trump created the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity on May 11 in the wake of his repeated false claims that he should have won the popular vote over Hillary Clinton if not for voter fraud.
According to an Associated Press tally as of Sunday, 10 states and the District of Columbia will not comply with the Kobach letter; 16 states, including Illinois, are undecided; and 22 states are handing over partial information, as allowed by state law. Since then, Maryland has also announced it will not comply.
BELOW, THE TEXT OF THE DAVID ORR LETTER:
From the time he was a presidential candidate, Donald Trump has made unproven claims of widespread voter fraud happening throughout the nation. Now as president, Trump has assembled the inauthentic Presidential Advisory Commission on Voter Integrity to investigate voter registration and voter fraud.
This partisan Commission has been formed on false pretenses: 3 to 5 million people did not vote illegally in the last presidential election, as the president believes, and a true bi-partisan Commission requires careful analysis and expertise.
Were this Commission truly working in the interest of making our elections as error-free and our voter rolls as clean as possible, the focus would be on the following:
Bringing every state on-board with the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) — a nationwide network of states, which includes Illinois, that securely shares voter registration data – so that voter information nationwide would be accurate and up-to-date.
Updating our nation’s election infrastructure — the machines voters use to cast their ballots — which in many election jurisdictions are a decade or more old and are being held together with replacement parts often purchased on eBay.
Pushing all states toward Automatic Voter Registration – a good government tool to help clean voter rolls across the nation.
Instead, the President’s Commission has told state election authorities to hand over information including the names, addresses, birth dates and party affiliations of registered voters in each state. The Commission also wants a record of felony convictions, military statuses, the last four digits of Social Security numbers and voting records dating back to 2006.
I’m happy to see that so far, election authorities in more than 40 states – including Kris Kobach’s own Kansas Secretary of State office – have rejected the Commission’s request for this information, and I urge the Illinois Board of Elections to stand up against this unnecessary overreach.
Voting is a fundamental right. Unfortunately, instead of a genuinely bipartisan group dedicated to protecting the vote, President Trump has stacked the deck of his Commission with a number of lawmakers who have shown an inclination towards voter suppression.
Furthermore, this comes at a time when Republicans have sought to defund the Election Assistance Commission, a truly bi-partisan Commission.
I strongly encourage the Illinois Board of Elections, as well as my fellow elections administrators, to be cautious of the motives of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Voter Integrity and not comply with this dangerous request.
Cook County Clerk