This week, Kansas Secretary Of State Kris Kobach set off a powder-keg of scrutiny when he sent out a request for comprehensive voter data from all 50 states as part of President Donald Trump's controversial voter fraud commission. So far, officials from 29 states have reportedly refused to fully cooperate, including from deep-red Republican states, like the Kentucky's secretary of state who rejected Kobach's voter data request by saying "there's not enough bourbon here in Kentucky" that would make it "sensible."
Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Kentucky official, made the remark while speaking with MSNBC's Ali Velshi on Saturday. Specifically, she blasted the voter fraud commission's request, insisting that the state would not cede its right to run elections over to the federal government. For the record, while Kentucky is a strongly Republican state, Lundergan Grimes is a Democrat.
Her exact words were:
Well, there's not enough bourbon here in Kentucky to make this request seem sensible. And I'm proud that Kentucky has led the way... not on my watch are we going to be releasing sensitive information that relate to the privacy of individuals. Not on my watch are we going to being turning over something that's left to the states to run.
Lundergan Grimes went further in detailing her opposition to the plan, saying that Kobach requested some of the most sensitive possible information about American voters ― including partial Social Security numbers ― but hadn't offered a guaranteed secure way of delivering it.
"Not on my watch are we going to be using a system that's an unsecure website," Lundergan Grimes said.
"They wanted us to use a system that's an unsecure website. They actually wanted us to upload this sensitive information, Americans' Social Security numbers, their dates of birth, they just wanted us to upload it to a site that as of last night wasn't even working."
Lundergan Grimes also criticized what she perceived as the underlying purpose of the data requests ― to help validate Trump's factually baseless, repeatedly debunked claim that he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton due to more than three million illegal votes being cast.
And we haven't even covered, as you noted, the entire sham reason this commission was created, and that's to try to find evidence to support a lie the president continues to perpetuate.
Trump has long insisted this is true, despite the fact that actual evidence of voter fraud is fleetingly rare. In fact, when you consider how many votes are cast in a presidential election, the rarity of voter fraud is almost shocking.
A Washington Post analysis back in Dec. 2016 found just four confirmed cases of voter fraud in the presidential election, only two of which were cases of individual voters trying to be counted twice ― the other two were an election worker tampering with ballots, and a woman mailing in a ballot for her recently deceased husband. Both of the in-person cases involved Trump supporters. To be clear, these are cases of explicit voter fraud, not including things like voter registration fraud, which Republican proposals such as voter ID would not have any effect on.
The best data available suggest that a national voter fraud investigation is effectively a waste of time and resources, and given longstanding progressive concerns about the GOP's motivations ― specifically, about possible voter suppression ― many are not taking the commission at face value.
It's not just the Democratic state officials who're balking at Kobach's request, either; in Mississippi, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann refused to release the information, and urged the commission to "jump in the Gulf of Mexico." And yes, that was his official response.
In other words, the voter fraud commission is having a very hard time prying loose the information it clearly wants, especially considering Kansas isn't even going to give it up. That's despite Kobach himself being the sitting secretary of state there ― he's actually denying his own request in his official capacity as a state official. In other words, whether dealing with Democrats or Republicans in state governments, it doesn't sound like anything about this commission is going to be smooth or effortless for the administration.