Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann will not comply with a request from President Donald Trump’s administration asking for detailed voter file information, including names, addresses, Social Security numbers and birthdates.
Hosemann, a Republican who did not endorse Trump during the presidential campaign, said his office has not yet received a letter from the administration. But he said if and when he does receive one, he will reject it outright. Hosemann is the one of the first Republican secretaries of state in the country to publicly reject the commission’s request, joining several Democratic colleagues in bucking the request.
“They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great state to launch from,” Hosemann said in a statement on Friday. “Mississippi residents should celebrate Independence Day and our state’s right to protect the privacy of our citizens by conducting our own electoral processes.”
All 50 secretaries of state received a request for the information in a letter this week from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who serves as vice chairman for Trump’s new Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.
The letter seeks the information to “study the registration and voting processes used in federal elections” that may “undermine the American people’s confidence in the integrity of federal elections processes.”
The commission’s request asks for the full names of registered voters, their dates of birth, registered addresses, voting history, and the last four digits of their Social Security numbers – all dating back to 2006.
Kobach was fined $1,000 by a federal judge last week for making “patently misleading representations” about documents he took to a November meeting with Trump that relate to federal voting law.
He told the Kansas City Star on Thursday that the personal data would be hosted on a secure server run by the federal government, and that the request for Social Security numbers was meant to ensure one person isn’t registered more than once.
Hosemann successfully won a 2014 federal case on the argument that state voter file information should be kept private and not shared with the federal government. He has gone to great lengths since the November presidential election to assure the public that there was no voter fraud in the 2016 presidential election.
Twenty-two Mississippians sponsored by Texas-based True the Vote filed a federal lawsuit against Hosemann and the state of Mississippi in 2014, seeking birth dates of Mississippi’s 1.8 million registered voters. Many of those 22 plaintiffs were supporters of state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who narrowly lost the Republican primary runoff to U.S. Senator Thad Cochran. McDaniel earned more votes than Cochran in the primary.
In court and in public, Hosemann pushed back, calling the lawsuit “ill conceived, incoherent, misguided, poorly drafted, filed in the wrong court and probably politically motivated,” saying all voter file information was available to anyone after properly redacting the voter’s birth date and social security numbers.
“The Mississippi Legislature enacted a law to protect your birth date and social security number from public dissemination,” Hosemann said in a statement in July 2014. “This out-of-state company (True the Vote) wants your birth date or wants you, the taxpayer, to pay the redacting and copying for them. Your locally elected circuit clerks are following the law.”
The federal district court ruled in Hosemann’s favor, tossing the case and stating the state restrictions on providing voter identification did not violate the federal voting rights act.
Hosemann touted the smooth election process last fall.