Maine’s secretary of state has received another letter from President Trump’s voter fraud commission, asking him to turn over personal information from the state’s voters.

Kristen Muszynski, spokeswoman for Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, confirmed that their office received the letter late Wednesday from the commission’s vice chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. He is asking that states turn over personal voter registration data, including names, addresses, party affiliations and voting histories, to the extent allowed by respective state laws.

Dunlap, one of four Democrats who serve on the president’s commission, is on vacation this week and unavailable for comment, Muszynski said. But in a press release Thursday afternoon his office said he will delay deciding whether to comply until after the commission’s next meeting, tentatively scheduled for mid-September.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla rejected the new request Thursday, saying the commission was a “sham” and that the new request “does nothing to address the fundamental problems with the commission’s illegitimate origins, questionable mission or the preconceived and harmful views on voting rights that many of its commissioners have advanced.”

In June, Kobach requested the data for voters in all 50 states but was rebuffed by 44 of them, some because election officials said fulfilling the request would violate state law, others because they distrusted the motives of the commission, which Trump created via executive order to substantiate his evidence-free claim that he would have won the popular vote had it not been for millions of illegal votes having been cast. Twenty-one of those states and the District of Columbia declined to cooperate altogether. Dunlap initially said he would partially comply with the request, then later changed his position after consultations with Attorney General Janet Mills.

Kobach’s new request follows Tuesday’s ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia denying a privacy advocacy group’s request for a temporary restraining order to prevent the commission from receiving the voter information, one of several legal actions filed against it.


David Becker, former director of the elections program at the Pew Charitable Trusts and executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research in Washington, D.C., says the Kobach’s new letter is less defensible than the previous one that drew bipartisan ire from secretaries of state.

“When they wrote the first letter they didn’t realize he states would have legitimate questions about what they were doing and how they were doing it,” Becker says. “Now it’s been a month since the first letter they’ve held their first meeting and heard form secretaries of sate from both parties, and yet they are still refusing to provide basic answers to the question they are asking about how this information will be used and protected.”

In his press statement, Dunlap noted that Kobach did not discuss issuing the letter with commissioners like himself prior to sending it, raising concerns about the process. “If we’re going to act as a commission, we should really be considering the entire request for data as a body, and determining what it is we’re researching and how to look for it,” Dunlap said.

Dunlap has been under fire from fellow Democrats for participating in a commission that in its first meeting made clear will focus almost entirely on voter fraud, a problem numerous studies and probes by administrations headed by both parties have shown is vanishingly rare. Dunlap has said he has joined the commission with an open mind and will act as a whistleblower if it engages in partisan shenanigans.

Becker said he knows and respects Dunlap but that the time has come for him to reconsider this position, particularly after the first meeting July 19 made clear the group is not interested in real threats to the integrity of US elections, like the infiltration of state election systems by Russia.

“I think after that meeting you have to really put some thought into whether or not this is a credible operation and especially after this latest letter,” he said. “At some point he is going to have to make his assessment about how whether or not his continuing participation in this is damaging the very fine reputation he has built up over time.”

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