Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, who grabbed national headlines last week when he boldly refused to share requests from the Trump administration for private voter file information, acknowledged on Thursday he has shared that very information with a program led by the White House’s elections point man.
The drama began last week, when Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the head of President Donald Trump’s newly formed Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, requested detailed voter information from all 50 states.
When asked if he would comply with the request, Hosemann, a Republican, responded: “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.”
However, Hosemann’s office has shared birthdates, addresses and the last four digits of Mississippians’ social security numbers with a program launched in 2005 by the Kansas Secretary of State’s office, which Kobach now oversees.
The Kansas initiative, called Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, was established to “identifies possible duplicate registrations among states” and “provide evidence of possible double votes,” according to the Kansas Secretary of State’s website.
In 2016, 28 states participated in the program, according to its website. Nineteen states participated in a similar program called the Electronic Registration Information Center.
Hosemann said there are differences between the two programs. He said the member states share the same information with the group, but the info “is subject to strict security standards, including encryption and permanent deletion.” Hosemann also emphasized that last week’s request from Kobach for voter file information included “no guarantee of confidentiality and without oversight from or control by the states.”
“This is an elective annual program controlled by the states with no permanent centralized database and governed by a confidentiality agreement between the states: an example of the 10th Amendment at work,” Hosemann said Thursday in a statement. “To our knowledge, none of the 28 participating states have supported compliance with the commission’s request for private information.”
Kobach, who leads Trump’s new commission, sent a letter to all 50 states last week requesting information designed to investigate those very issues.
He also had harsh words for media outlets that reported on secretaries of states refusal to turn over voter information. In a statement from the White House, deriding those reports as “more fake news.”
“Despite media distortions and obstruction by a handful of state politicians, this bipartisan commission on election integrity will continue its work to gather the facts through public records requests to ensure the integrity of each American’s vote because the public has a right to know,” Kobach said.