Pennsylvania, Delaware officials tell Trump voter fraud commission to take a hike

    Voting machines at the Office of the City Commissioner's warehouse (Brad Larrison for WHYY)

    Voting machines at the Office of the City Commissioner's warehouse (Brad Larrison for WHYY)

    The request for detailed voter information from President Donald Trump’s commission investigating vote fraud is going nowhere with Pennsylvania and Delaware officials. New Jersey, where Republican and Trump supporter Chris Christie is governor, hasn’t yet responded to the request.

    The search for detailed data, including criminal records and partial Social Security numbers, has riled election officials across the country.

    But you might be surprised at how much voter information is already publicly available.

    For $20, you can get the name, address, gender, date of birth and voter history of every registered voter in Pennsylvania. Political operatives regularly plumb that list for useful data.

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    But Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said the request of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity goes too far.

    In a letter to Kris Kobach, commission vice chairman, Wolf said public disclosure of the information would violate state law. And he said he has “serious reservations about the true intentions of this effort.”

    During the 2016 campaign, Wolf said, Trump “repeatedly and falsely suggested, without evidence, that there existed widespread voter fraud in Pennsylvania.”

    The letter tells Kobach that “the commonwealth cannot share this information.”

    First State

    Delaware hasn’t formally responded to the commission, but a one-page statement from Election Commissioner Elaine Manlove said the state “will not comply” with the request.

    Manlove told me in an interview voters are angry about the commission’s work.

    “I’m getting phone calls and email from, just, voters all over the state saying ‘please do not share my information,'” she said.

    Manlove said she’s conferring with state attorneys before responding to the commission.

    She said some of what the commission wants is normally available through a public information request, “but since I’m having such an outcry from the public, I want to see if there’s a way I can protect that as well, since the public does not want their information shared.”

    Garden State

    I was unable to get a meaningful response from officials in New Jersey, which maybe isn’t surprising since much of the state government is shut down due to the budget impasse between Gov. Christie and lawmakers.

    In New Jersey, the Secretary of State — the official who normally oversees elections — is Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.

    I reached her by text, and she referred me to a Facebook statement in which she noted that it’s the state’s Division of Elections policy “to protect voters’ private personal information.”

    But she also noted that, because she’s a candidate for governor, she’s recused herself from election matters. That means the State Division of Elections will handle the response to the commission without her guidance.

    The phones weren’t being answered at that office when I called, and I didn’t get a response to a call and email to the governor’s press office.

    As I said, they’re a little busy.

    But the politics of this will be interesting. The state’s governor is Christie, a Republican and vocal Trump supporter after his own presidential campaign collapsed.

    Guadagno is also Republican, but she’s running for election in a pretty Democratic state. So to the extent she has influence, it might align more with Trump opponents than supporters.

    It may be that states’ resistance to the request forces the commission to rethink its approach before New Jersey takes any action.

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