Thursday, July 27, 2017
Contact: Kristen Schulze Muszynski

Secretary Dunlap reviewing Elections Commission’s second request for voter data

AUGUSTA – The Maine Department of the Secretary of State received a second letter from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach on Wednesday, July 26, requesting voter data from the States for the use of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Kobach is the vice chairman of the commission, on which Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap also serves.

Kobach had previously requested all publicly available voter data from all the states in his letter of June 28, and stated that the data would be made public. Secretary Dunlap denied the request based on the provision in Maine law that prohibits Maine voter data from public disclosure. The law allows only limited release of voter data, to certain authorized parties for specific uses such as “get out the vote” efforts.

In this second letter, Kobach has altered the request by stating that the requested information will not be shared publicly:
"The only information that will be made public are statistical conclusions drawn from the data, other general observations that may be drawn from the data, and any correspondence that you may send to the Commission in response to the narrative questions enumerated in the June 28 letter. Let me be clear, the Commission will not release any personally identifiable information from voter registration records to the public."

This secondary request for voter data was not discussed at the commission’s first meeting on July 19, nor in discussions thereafter, and Secretary Dunlap said this action raises concerns about the process. “If we're going to act as a commission, we should really be considering the entire request for data as a body, and determining what it is we're researching and how to look for it,” said Secretary Dunlap.

At this time, Secretary Dunlap is reviewing the request with legal counsel and plans to delay his decision on whether or not to provide the data until he and the other commissioners can convene to discuss the request. The next commission meeting is tentatively slated for mid- September.