Photo via Rick Scott/Twitter
Gov. Rick Scott's administration has decided to partially comply with a request
for personal voter information from President Donald Trump's election integrity commission.
In a July 6 letter to commission chairman Kris Kobach, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner says the state will provide information to the commission about Florida residents that is already publicly available, such as names, dates of birth, addresses, political affiliation and voter history. However, Detzner says Florida cannot provide Social Security numbers, driver's license numbers or any other information that is exempt under the state's public records laws, like the protected personal information of judges, police officers and domestic violence victims.
"The right to vote is one of the most sacred rights available in the democratic process," Detzner writes. "Any efforts to dilute its importance cannot be taken lightly. As you know, people have died for the right to vote and we must ensure we preserve it. Of course, the responsibility for the accuracy and fairness of our election process in Florida lies on us, not with the federal government in Washington."
Forty-four states led by Republican and Democratic governors have refused to provide certain voter information to the commission. The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, formed after Trump's unsubstantiated claim that millions voted illegally in the 2016 election, asked all 50 states to provide publicly available voter information, including the last four digits of Social Security numbers and history of voting from 2006 onward.
The bipartisan backlash was swift, with civil liberties groups calling it part of a larger scheme to impose stricter voting requirements that would make it harder for some people to vote. Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann even told the commission to "go jump in the Gulf of Mexico." Florida Democrats and the League of Women Voters of Florida have called on Scott and Detzner to reject Kobach's request.
"This commission is a total sham," Florida Democratic Party leaders wrote in a letter
. "Donald Trump's assertion that 3 to 5 million votes were cast illegally is an outright lie. This is fear mongering at its worst and a direct attack on the integrity of our electoral process by our nation's highest officeholder. The false claim of widespread voter fraud has been universally debunked countless times. For making this claim, Donald Trump is either massively ignorant and ill-advised, or this is a thinly-veiled attempt at justifying national voter suppression tactics— we believe it is likely a combination of the two."
While other states responded to the commission's June 28 request immediately, Scott, a close Trump ally, and others in his administration remained silent on whether they would agree to give Floridians' personal information to the White House. In his letter, Detzner says state officials want each election in Florida to have 100 percent participation rate among eligible voters with zero fraud.
"We take this mission extremely seriously and work each day to ensure that Floridans can participate in fair, honest elections," Detzner writes. "In fact, in 2016, we are proud that Florida had a record turnout and a smooth, secure election which reflected the will of the people of Florida."
Read the entire letter in the attachment below.
See related PDF