ElectionRecount1 (copy)

Wisconsin Elections Commission Chairman Mark Thomsen, left, and commission administrator Michael Haas view the results of the statewide presidential recount at a news conference in December. 

JOHN HART, STATE JOURNAL

The chairman of the Wisconsin Elections Commission has invited lawmakers with concerns about a federal request for states' voting data to attend the commission's meeting next month.

Wisconsin's Congressional Democrats sent a letter to the commission last month, urging it not to share voters' personal information with the federal government. 

Their letter came after a request from President Donald Trump's Advisory Commission on Election Integrity for data from all 50 states including registered voters' names, voting history, political party affiliations, addresses, birth dates and the last four digits of their Social Security numbers.

Trump has claimed without evidence that millions of fraudulent votes were cast in the November 2016 election and in others before it. The commission, led by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, was formed to investigate those claims.

"Under Wisconsin’s Public Records Law and other state statutes, the Commission is entitled to purchase the same public information about Wisconsin voters as any other candidate, political committee or individual," wrote commission chairman Mark Thomsen. 

Thomsen, a Democratic appointee to the commission, invited Reps. Gwen Moore, Mark Pocan and Ron Kind to attend the commission's meeting on Sept. 26. He has invited Kobach to do the same.

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The lawmakers argued in their letter that Wisconsin should not even partially comply with the request, citing reports from the U.S. intelligence community that Russia attempted to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. Sharing any information would expose the Wisconsin electorate to "significant, irreparable harm," they wrote.

Most of the information in Wisconsin's voter registration system is available for purchase by the public under state law. Anyone who pays for the data can view a voter's name, address and voting history. The state does not collect information about a voter's gender or political preference.

Confidential information including a voter's date of birth, driver's license or Social Security number is not shared with others, with limited exceptions for law enforcement agencies. The presidential commission "does not appear to qualify" for an exception, Haas said in response to the initial request.

The cost to obtain the entire statewide voter file is $12,500. State law requires information to be released to anyone who pays the fee.

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Jessie Opoien covers state government and politics for the Capital Times. She joined the Cap Times in 2013 and has also covered Madison life, race relations, culture and music. She has also covered education and politics for the Oshkosh Northwestern.