“Many mostly Democrat States refused to hand over data from the 2016 Election to the Commission On Voter Fraud. They fought hard that the Commission not see their records or methods because they know that many people are voting illegally.”
— President Trump, in a tweet, Jan. 4, 2018
Regular readers know that President Trump has often earned Pinocchios for his unproven claims about rampant voter fraud. In disbanding his controversial panel studying alleged voter fraud, the president once again asserted “many people are voting illegally” even though there is no evidence of that.
Rather than rehash that bogus claim — readers can find our previous fact checks here, here, here, here, here, here and here — we decided to examine the first part of Trump’s tweet. He claimed that “many mostly Democrat States refused to hand over data” requested from the voting commission.
The Fact Checker obtained previously undisclosed data from a White House source on which states had provided at least some of the requested information to the commission. Here are the results.
On June 28, 2017, Commission Vice Chair Kris Kobach sent a letter to election officials for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, requesting the states “provide to the Commission the publicly-available voter roll data” including 11 types of information “if publicly available under the laws of your state.” The information included such items as first and last names of all registrants, middle names or initials if available, addresses, dates of birth, political party registration, last four digits of Social Security number, voter history from 2006, felony convictions, military status and the like.
As one might expect, the request was controversial. According to our White House source, 29 states and the District did not send information, while 20 have done so; one state, New Hampshire, has said it would send information but has not yet done so. In a number of cases, the commission did not get as much information as it had hoped for, but it got something after politicians (such as in New York) had initially refused to comply.
Meanwhile, six states, such as Georgia, had indicated they would release some information upon payment of a fee that has not yet been made by the commission. There are three states — Indiana, Texas and Utah — where litigation has prevented the sharing of any data. Arkansas was the first state to submit data — on July 27 — and the commission last received data from states on Oct. 11 (West Virginia and Oregon). So no data has been submitted for nearly three months.
Partisan distinctions can be quantified in a number of ways. There are seven “no” states in which there is a Republican governor — but a Democratic secretary of state. That suggests the secretary of state, who often oversees election matters, might have thwarted the wishes of the GOP governor. Meanwhile, there are four “yes” states with a Democratic governor and a Republican secretary of state, where the same dynamic may have been in play.
When one party controlled both offices, the split was fairly equal. There are only four “yes” states with both a Democratic governor and secretary of state, compared to six “no” states. Meanwhile, there were 11 “yes’ states with a Republican governor and secretary of state — but 15 “no” states.
That’s about the same ratio as the Democrats, unless you shift the five Republican-Republican states that had been awaiting payment from “no” to “yes.”
The states which agreed to submit information are: Alaska (information submitted Sept. 28), Arkansas (July 27), Colorado (Aug. 3), Florida (July 28), Hawaii (Sept. 28), Idaho (Sept. 28), Iowa (Sept. 19), Kansas (Aug. 14), Missouri (Sept. 20), Montana (Sept. 28), Nevada (Sept. 26), New Hampshire (not received yet), New Jersey (Aug. 18), New York (Sept. 28), North Carolina (Sept. 21), Ohio (July 28), Oklahoma (Sept. 18), Oregon (Oct. 11), Pennsylvania (Sept. 25), Washington (Sept. 22), and West Virginia (Oct. 11).
The states which have not submitted information are: Alabama (pending payment), Arizona (pending payment), California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia (pending payment), Illinois, Indiana (in litigation), Kentucky, Louisiana (pending payment), Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota (pending payment), Tennessee, Texas (in litigation), Utah (in litigation), Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin (pending payment) and Wyoming.
We cross-referenced that information on data submissions with the political leanings of each state, according to whether the state was blue or red in the 2016 election and the political party affiliation of the governor or secretary of state. Here are the results.
Among 2016 presidential election states, 57 percent of the Republican states did not provide data, compared to 60 percent of the Democratic states. If you are generous and include states “pending payment,” then 40 percent of the states that supported Trump have refused to provide data. (Note: an earlier version of the map below had incorrect color markings for Minnesota, Nebraska and Alaska)
Looking at governors, 64 percent of the states headed by a Republican governor did not provide data, compared to 53 percent of the Democratic states. For reference, here’s a political breakdown of the states by the governor’s political affiliation. (Note: an earlier version of this map incorrectly listed New Mexico as Democrat.)
Among secretaries of state, 68 percent of the states with a Democrat did not provide data, compared to 52 percent of the Republican states. For reference, here’s a political breakdown of the states by the secretary’s political affiliation.
The Pinocchio Test
Trump, as usual, goes too far to pin the resistance to providing the data on “mostly Democrat States.” There is a Democratic tilt to the opposition, especially if one assumes the states requesting payment might have eventually provided data. But a relatively large percentage of Republican-leaning states also did not provide data. The president earns Two Pinocchios on this particular point — although his claims of voter fraud remain in Four-Pinocchio territory.
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