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Utah ‘Wary’ Of Data Request By Trump’s Voter Integrity Commission

Julia Ritchey, KUER
Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and director of elections Mark Thomas at a press conference on May 19, 2017. State election officials are pushing back on a request for voter data by a federal commission investigating voter fraud.

Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox says his office is carefully reviewing a request by the Trump administration for the state’s voter roll data.

President Trump created the Election Integrity Commission at the beginning of his term to investigate what he alleged was widespread voter fraud in the presidential election — costing him the popular vote.


Now, a blanket data request to all 50 states by that commission, led by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, has drawn some bipartisan backlash from state officials who oversee elections.


At least 10 secretaries of state have said they will not comply with the request. Utah’s Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox said he'll comply in part, but is unsure of what the commission is trying to achieve.


“We do not feel like there is any evidence whatsoever of mass voter fraud in the state of Utah,” said Cox. “We don’t think it’s really necessary for the commission to spend any of their energy looking into that here.”


That said, if the commission files the appropriate paperwork, they're entitled to any information that is already publicly available, in accordance with state law.


That would not include, however, more private data like social security and drivers’ license numbers, which the panel had also requested.


Cox, a Republican, said he believes the skeptical response to the commission would’ve happened regardless of party.


“I’m very wary of any effort to take citizens’ private information and store it at a federal level — and how that could be used or misused,” he said. “Again, we’re watching this very closely. We’ll abide by the law as necessary, but we want to make sure these requests are legitimate.”


Public voter rolls are already available to most political parties and campaigns. Cox said the commission hasn’t yet formally requested the data, which would alsobe subject to a fee.


Read Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox statement on voter data request:

Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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