September 19, 2017
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Dunlap again refuses to give Maine voter data to Trump fraud panel

By Steve Mistler, Maine Public
Troy R. Bennett | BDN | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN | BDN
Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap

Secretary of State Matt Dunlap says he’s refusing a second request by the Trump administration’s election fraud commission to turn over Maine voters’ personal information.

Dunlap is one of four Democrats serving on the president’s commission, which opponents have assailed as a sham designed to nationalize Republican voter suppression efforts. He has said he’s keeping an open mind about the fraud commission, but he plans to send a letter to its chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Chris Kobach, asking for clarity around how Maine’s voter information will be used.

“We need to know what our goals are. There are some real questions here about whether or not this data can be secured, and it may not provide us with anything of value anyway,” Dunlap said.

The commission initially requested the voter data — including names, addresses, party affiliations and voting histories — with the plan of making it public. But that request was rejected by 44 state election officials, including Dunlap.

Last week, the commission sent a second request, saying it planned to keep the information private. Dunlap said the new request leaves questions about whether the commission can unilaterally decide what it can shield from the public and, ultimately, its intentions.

Dunlap’s response reflects skepticism about President Donald Trump’s commission, which the president created after repeatedly asserting without evidence that there was widespread voter fraud in last year’s election.

Kobach and Vice President Mike Pence said during the commission’s first meeting in mid-July that the panel had no “preconceived notions or preordained results” about voter fraud or policies to restrict access to the polls.

But when Trump himself addressed the panel, he suggested that states that refused to turn over voter information were hiding evidence of widespread fraud.

“If there’s any state that does not want to share this information, one has to wonder what they’re worried about,” he said. “I ask the vice president, I ask the commission, what are they worried about? There’s something. There always is.”

Dunlap said neither he nor the state have anything to hide, but want to ensure that Mainers’ private information is secure.

“This is not about me versus my own commission, or me versus the president or me versus Secretary Kobach. It’s really about me following the law,” he said.

Dunlap said he’s also frustrated that the commission did not discuss the new request for voter data during its first meeting and that some panel members appeared to be requesting more data, but not explaining why.

This report appears as part of a media partnership with Maine Public.

 


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