Justice Department Request For State Voter Information Follows Similar Kobach Query

Jul 5, 2017

Officials with the U.S. Department of Justice are asking states including Kansas for information related to the National Voter Registration Act — a move made the same day that the president’s commission on voter fraud sent a request for “publicly available voter roll data.”

In a letter sent June 28, Justice Department officials requested data on how states purge registrations of people who have died or moved. The letter seeks information to confirm that states are complying with federal law and keeping voting lists updated.

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach on the same day sent requests for voter registration information to all states in his role as vice chairman of President Donald Trump’s commission on voter fraud. Numerous states have said they will not provide some or all of the information that Kobach requested.

Washington’s secretary of state earlier this week made public the request she received from the Justice Department. 

When asked if Kansas had received a similar letter, Kobach spokesperson Samantha Poetter confirmed it.

“We have received this letter,” Poetter said Wednesday in a statement. “We are currently reviewing it.”

Poetter wouldn’t say what Kobach thinks of the request. When asked for a copy of the letter, she said she would have to check with the office legal department.

The letter sent to Washington state asks for a variety of information, including the process used to remove voters who have moved or died. It also asks for the number of voters removed from voting lists.

“As part of our nationwide enforcement effort, we are reviewing voter registration list maintenance procedures in each state covered by the NVRA,” said the letter, which was signed by DOJ Voting Section Chief T. Christian Herren.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a Freedom of Information Act request in response to the letter, raising concerns about the breadth of the DOJ request.

“The DOJ offered no explanation or justification for the unprecedented time-bound request,” the center said in a letter

Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio, a partner in the Kansas News Service.