Mississippi Officials Spar Over Release of Voter Data

State Rep. Jay Hughes says that Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann has already divulged private voter data to Trump’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

by Bobby Harrison, Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Tupelo / July 7, 2017
Google is testing a new method of voting it hopes will cut election spending and improve decision making. Flickr/Jamelah E.

(TNS) -- JACKSON – State Rep. Jay Hughes, D-Oxford, said Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, despite his tough rhetoric, already has divulged to the head of President Donald Trump’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity the private information of Mississippi voters.

In an email, Hughes cited “spin vs. reality” saying, “Secretary Hosemann has already turned over the state’s entire voter rolls…, some 2,092,886 files, each year. Each file includes voter names, last four digits of their Social Security numbers, voting address, and voting history.”

But Hosemann said providing the information to a state cooperative that has confidentiality agreements in place is different than giving the information to a presidential commission that has said the information could be made public.

Last week, the Republican Hosemann received national attention when he was one of the first officials overseeing state elections to say he would not honor the request of Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, to provide the private information to the president’s commission.

A vast majority of the states have since announced they also would not provide the information.

Hughes, though, maintains that Hosemann participated in an interstate voter registration crosscheck program that shared the same private information about Mississippi voters with more than 20 other states. Officials in Kansas, where Kobach serves as secretary of state, were responsible for compiling the data for the interstate voter registration crosscheck program.

“A little transparency anyone?” Hughes wrote. “It is time to put people over party.”

The state cooperatives was established by federal law “to ensure accurate and current voter registration rolls are maintained.”

In a statement, Hosemann said, “Mississippi and 28 other states have elected to participate in an interstate cross-check program to assist our county election officials in enforcing state and federal law prohibiting voting by non-residents. Any data shared is subject to strict security standards including encryption and permanent deletion.

“This is an elective annual program controlled by the states with no permanent centralized database and governed by a confidentiality agreement between the states – an example of the 10th Amendment at work.”

Hosemann has gone to court in the past to block efforts to obtain voter information, such as the last four digits of Social Security numbers.

Last week, referring to the possibility of giving that information to the president’s commission, Hosemann said, “They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico... Mississippi residents should celebrate Independence Day and our state’s right to protect the privacy of our citizens by conducting our own electoral processes.”

©2017 the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal (Tupelo, Miss.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.