Kim Wyman, a Republican, said, “I’m leaning toward: We’ll just fill the public records request and have that be it.” She added she also intends to talk over the matter with fellow secretaries of state at a meeting this week.
Kim Wyman, Washington’s secretary of state, said Saturday her office has been fielding many calls and social-media messages since she said Thursday that she would release public records — but not private information — in response to a White House commission’s request for data on the nation’s voters.
Wyman’s position, as she said in a statement on Thursday, is: “As with any request for public records, we are required to comply pursuant to state law regardless of who is making the request.”
Her position remained unchanged Saturday, even as officials in other states called the White House commission’s move an overreach and more than 20 states declared they would not comply.
“I took an oath of office to uphold the state law and the constitution,” Wyman said Saturday. “I don’t get to pick which laws I follow and which ones I don’t.”
The commission was created after President Donald Trump claimed last winter, without evidence, that millions of people voted illegally to give the popular vote victory in the presidential election to Hillary Clinton.
The Presidential Advisory Commission on Voter Integrity, via a letter from Vice Chairman Kris Kobach, had asked election officials to turn over the data “if publicly available,” apparently to aid a nationwide search for evidence of election irregularities.
Besides election information such as voters’ names and party affiliations, the commission sought personal information including birth dates, felony-conviction records, voting histories for the past decade, driver’s license numbers and the last four digits of all voters’ Social Security numbers.
The response from states varied, with a number of state election officials indicating they will not or cannot comply. The Mississippi secretary of state, Delbert Hosemann, a Republican, said Friday that he had not received a request from the commission, but said that if one came, “my reply would be: They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico, and Mississippi is a great state to launch from.”
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Wyman, who is a Republican, said Saturday “I’m leaning toward: We’ll just fill the public-records request and have that be it.”
But she added she also intends to talk over the matter with fellow secretaries of state at a meeting this week.
Wyman intends to send the commission the link on its website to request the information — the same link that anyone who requests the voter information goes through, Wyman said.
The public information includes names, addresses and birth dates, as well as which elections a voter cast a vote in. It does not say, and the office does not track, how anyone voted.
Information that is not public record will remain private, including voters’ Social Security number (even just the last four digits), driver’s license number, phone number, email and language preference, she said.
“I realize that, with the amount of calls our office has received and social media, it’s certainly striking a nerve with people,” Wyman said. “We’re trying to comply with the law. Our job isn’t to determine whether the person requesting the data is good, bad or otherwise. Our job is to comply with the law.”
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, in a post on Facebook, said he had spoken with Wyman and “I can assure you that our state won’t share any information that isn’t already accessible to the public.”
Inslee, a Democrat, also said in the post that “my fear is that this request will only further the President’s unfounded claims about voter fraud and will be used for voter-suppression efforts. … I believe Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann offered an excellent template for a response to the administration’s request, though I’d strongly suggest they jump in Lake Washington.”