COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri voters have flooded Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft’s office with calls expressing concern about his decision to give some voter registration information to a national commission investigating alleged voter fraud.
The office received “literally hundreds of calls” this week,” spokeswoman Maura Browning said Thursday.
Many callers were concerned that the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity will be given their Social Security numbers and voting history. Browning said Missouri will provide only information showing that the voter participated in an election, not how they voted, The Columbia Daily Tribune reported.
The commission last week asked secretaries of state for voters’ names, birthdates, partial Social Security numbers, voting history and other information if it is public under state laws. More than a dozen states and the District of Columbia refused to comply, while many other states said they would provide only information that is public under their laws.
Browning said Missouri doesn’t record party affiliation. The other information sought is not public.
Former Secretary of State Jason Kander, a Democrat, provided the information 380 times during the four years he was in office, Browning said. His predecessor, Robin Carnahan, released the list more than 600 times during her eight years, she said.
In an email to supporters, Ashcroft wrote that the worries about the data release are misplaced and that the state’s open records law requires him to provide the information upon request. He said the outrage over the request is “based on a misunderstanding of the facts.”
President Donald Trump, who created the commission through executive order in May, lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election but has alleged, without evidence, that millions of people voted illegally. Democrats have blasted the commission as a biased panel merely looking for ways to suppress the vote.
In Missouri, Democrats have criticized Ashcroft for quickly agreeing to release the data and accused Republicans of hypocrisy on privacy issues.
At a town hall meeting Wednesday in Ashland, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill said she is most upset about how Republicans politicize privacy.
“I am less critical about him doing it and much more critical about the hypocrisy of their positions about data and privacy,” the Missouri Democrat said. “It is just when a Republican asks, it’s OK; and when a Democratic administration asks, it is not.”
McCaskill noted that the Republican-dominated Legislature cited privacy concerns when it couldn’t agree that Missouri residents should have drivers’ licenses that comply with the federal Real ID Act, necessary to board an airplane or enter a military base.
Lawmakers passed a law allowing people to ask for a compliant license, but they didn’t require it.
Privacy issues have also stalled legislation to monitor purchases of addictive prescription drugs, the senator said.