The D.C. Council voted unanimously Tuesday to reject demands for information about District voters from a commission formed by President Trump, joining scores of states refusing to comply with the White House’s efforts to investigate allegations of widespread voting fraud.
Council members’ vote, taken at their last meeting before a two-month recess, comes as the presidential commission is mired in legal troubles. A federal judge in Washington is weighing whether the commission’s sweeping requests for voter data would violate Americans’ privacy.
White House officials have asked states to hold off on submitting any data until the matter is settled in court. At least 44 states have said they will not cooperate with the commission, withholding some or all of voters’ personal information.
“The District of Columbia will not be party to this blatant effort to intimidate voters,” said Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), the bill’s author. “The myth of voter fraud is a distraction at best, and at worst it is an intentional effort to justify laws that suppress votes — especially those of minority and elderly voters.”
Allen’s bill makes it illegal for the D.C. Board of Elections to provide Trump’s commission with information about voters beyond what is already publicly available. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) said last month that she would not comply with the commission’s demands.
Trump created the commission with a May executive order after asserting without proof that illegal voting by immigrants and others cost him the popular vote against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Crackdowns on alleged voter fraud have become a priority in Republican-controlled statehouses in recent years. Critics of the measures say they are efforts to reduce turnout among poor and minority voters who tend to support Democrats, a view that has been echoed by judges.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R), vice chairman of the commission, sent a letter to the states in late June asking for information including voters’ names, addresses, partial Social Security numbers, birth dates, party registrations, and military and felony criminal records.
The request provoked an immediate backlash from state officials and led to lawsuits from civil liberties groups.
Arkansas has been the only state to comply.
In Virginia, Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) said on the day it was announced that he would not comply with the election commission’s request for information, saying there was no evidence of “significant voter fraud” in the state.
“At best this commission was set up as a pretext to validate Donald Trump’s alternative election facts and at worst is a tool to commit large-scale voter suppression,” McAuliffe said in announcing his refusal.
Maryland’s State Board of Elections told the presidential panel last week that it would not comply with the request because disclosure of at least some of the information is prohibited by state law.
Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D), whose office provided the legal analysis behind the decision, called the commission’s request a “repugnant” maneuver to “intimidate voters and to indulge President Trump’s fantasy that he won the popular vote.”
Gregory S. Schneider and Ovetta Wiggins contributed to this report.