ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York state will hand over some voter information to President Donald Trump’s commission investigating voter fraud, becoming the first state to largely comply with the request after initially balking.
The state’s Board of Elections voted Wednesday to provide data such as voter names, birthdates, addresses and voting history after determining it was a legitimate request based on state open records laws.
The state will withhold certain information, however, such as a voter’s Social Security number or criminal history, because of state laws on voter privacy.
“The data will be sent out this afternoon,” said John Conklin, a spokesman for the Board of Elections. “We had no lawful reason to deny it.”
The move comes after Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo vowed not to comply with the commission’s initial request.
“New York refuses to perpetuate the myth voter fraud played a role in our election,” Cuomo said at the time. “We will not be complying with this request.”
The commission then filed an amended request through the state’s open records law seeking voter data already available to members of the public who file such requests.
Following the board’s decision to grant that request, Cuomo said the state would continue to defy any attempt by the commission to access “sensitive personal data” protected by law.
“We will never provide private voter information to anyone, especially a politically-motivated organization seeking to perpetuate the myth of voter fraud.”
Similar requests for more general voter data are often made by political parties and campaign groups. More than 1,000 such queries have been answered since the start of 2015.
While the voter information is technically considered a public record, state law restricts access to the information for non-election purposes in an effort to ensure the data isn’t misused, possibly for commercial purposes.
Democratic state Assemblyman Walter Mosley of Brooklyn said the board should have given the request more consideration before deciding the request was legitimate.
“This decision was made in haste, without public input, and is a disservice to all New York voters,” he said in a statement.
Wednesday’s decision makes New York the first state to move from rejecting the request entirely to complying, at least in part.
Now, 32 states say they’re providing some information, though several of them say the commission must first pay fees ranging from $23 to $32,000. No state is supplying every item on the commission’s list; most states say that some details, such as driver’s license and Social Security numbers, are not considered public and cannot be shared. The commission did say it wanted only the records that are considered public by the states.
Thirteen states plus Washington, D.C., are still denying all information even after the commission sent renewed requests last week clarifying a pledge not to share individual voter records publicly. “The commission’s new request does nothing to address the fundamental problems with the commission’s illegitimate origins, questionable mission or the preconceived and harmful views on voting rights that many of its commissioners have advanced,” California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said in a statement last week.
Four states that originally denied the request - Arizona, Illinois, Maine and South Dakota - have said they’re now reviewing it.
Associated Press writer Geoff Mulvihill in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, contributed to this report.
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