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ND law prevents officials from giving voter info to Trump commission

North Dakota deputy Secretary of State Jim Silrum discussed the impact of a proposed voter registration study at an interim meeting of the judiciary committee during the 2017 legislative session. Tom Stromme / Bismarck Tribune

BISMARCK—State law appears to prohibit North Dakota officials from providing voter information requested by a controversial commission examining "election integrity," a top state election official said Friday, June 30.

Deputy Secretary of State Jim Silrum said they received a letter from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the vice chairman of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, that was sent to all 50 states requesting publicly available voter roll data, including names, addresses, voter history and the last four digits of Social Security numbers.

North Dakota is the only state without voter registration, so Silrum said they wouldn't provide that data. State law does allow them to provide certain information from the Central Voter File, however, but only to candidates, political parties and political committees, and they can only use it for "election-related purposes," he said.

"As the request in the letter is worded, it does not appear that ND law will allow us to provide information from the CVF," Silrum said in an email.

The commission, which was created through an executive order signed by President Donald Trump this year, asked for the data so it can "fully analyze vulnerabilities and issues related to voter registration and voting." The request raised alarms over privacy and drew condemnation from election officials elsewhere.

Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon said he "will not hand over Minnesota voters' sensitive personal information to the commission." He also questioned the commission's credibility and called Trump's claim that millions voted illegally last year "false and irresponsible."

A 2015 document from the North Dakota Secretary of State's Office argues voter fraud is "possible" here but acknowledges there haven't been incidents of widespread fraud. A new voter ID law is set to go into effect Saturday.

The Washington Post contributed to this article.

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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