As Trump looks for voter fraud numbers, election board records show it rarely occurs in Oklahoma

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The request this week by President Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission for detailed information on Oklahoma’s registered voters is not the first time the state Election Board has been queried about possible illegal votes.

In January, three U.S. congressmen — Democrats Elijah E. Cummings, Robert A. Brady, and James. E Clyburn — sent the Election Board and former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt a request seeking “information regarding confirmed incidents of voter fraud.”

Cummings is the ranking member on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform; Brady is the ranking member on the Committee on House Administration; and Clyburn is the third-highest-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives.

The Frontier obtained the congressmen’s letter, the Election Board’s response, and the information sought by the congressmen via an open records request.

Congressmen Elijah Cummings, left, Robert Brady, middle, and James Clyburn. Cummings is from Maryland’s 7th district, Brady is from Pennsylvania’s 1st district, and Clyburn is from South Carolina’s 6th district. Courtesy.

The result of the Election Board’s nearly three-month investigation into possible voter fraud in the 2016 general election? Nineteen possible instances of potential voting crimes, 17 of which were instances of double votes, such as when a person votes via absentee ballot, then attempts to vote in person on Election Day.

All 18 instances were forwarded to local district attorneys for potential prosecution, said Election Board spokesman Bryan Dean.

“I have no idea what the disposition (of each case) is,” Dean said. “Most of the time double voting is not prosecuted because it happened by accident and they (the DAs) don’t want to go after a little old lady who voted twice.”

In the January letter from Cummings, Brady, and Clyburn, they asked Pruitt and Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax for:

  • The identity of the individual who cast the prohibited vote;
  • The date on which the prohibited vote took place;
  • The polling place where the prohibited vote occurred;
  • The specific legal reason the individual’s vote was prohibited; and
  • The result of the individual’s prosecution, if any.

The response by Ziriax, sent to the congressmen April 12, actually traced “alleged voting crimes” all the way back to 2014. That investigation found 172 alleged voting crimes in the elections held during that time frame.

  • 45 alleged votes by “ineligible convicted felons”;
  • 10 alleged non-citizen votes;
  • 101 allowed double votes;
  • 13 alleged absentee ballot irregularities;
  • 3 alleged voter registration irregularities.

Ziriax told the congressmen that the information on the possible disposition of those alleged incidents would have to be released by each individual district attorney.

Zariax’s response would appear to answer the implicit question in the data request made by the president’s voter fraud commission on Thursday.

The commission, formally referred to as the “Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity,” had sought a bevy of information on Oklahoma voters, including full names, addresses, birth dates, political affiliations, the last four digits of each voter’s social security number, voting history beginning in 2006, felony convictions, any information about voting history in other states, military information and “overseas citizen information.”

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Courtesy.

The request, which was first sent by the commission to Oklahoma Secretary of State Dave Lopez, asks for the information “if publicly available under the laws of your state.”

It also asks for the Election Board’s “views” on the following topics:

  • What changes, if any, to federal election laws would you recommend to enhance the integrity of federal elections?
  • How can the Commission support state and local election administrators with regard to information technology security and vulnerabilities?
  • What laws, policies, or other issues hinder your ability to ensure the integrity of elections you administer?
  • What evidence or information do you have regarding instances of voter fraud or registration fraud in your state?
  • What convictions for election-related crimes have occurred in your state since the November 2000 federal election?
  • What recommendations do you have for preventing voter intimidation or disenfranchisement?
  • What other issues do you believe the Commission should consider?

The letter was sent by Kris Kobach, who is Kansas’ secretary of state and serves as the commission’s co-chair. Kobach’s request, which was sent to all 50 states, was first reported by Thinkprogress on Thursday.

Dean said the Election Board had drafted a response to the commission’s request, but would likely not send it until next week. Some of the information requested by Kobach is public record, and some is not, Dean said, noting that the letter specifically asks for data “publicly available under the laws of (each) state.”

Under Oklahoma law, Dean said, information like social security numbers or driver’s license numbers is not publicly releasable.

“We have a publicly available voter roll database that includes all the information that’s public,” Dean said. “We’ll release them that information just like we would for any other person who asked for it … (that database) certainly doesn’t include social security numbers.”

Also received by the Election Board was a letter from the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division requesting information on policies and procedures regarding the maintenance of voting rolls. The DOJ letter states that the department is looking at state compliance with the voter registration maintenance provisions of the National Voter Registration Act.

Kobach’s request doesn’t specify what intended use the commission has for the data it collects from the states, only that the commission is charged with “studying the registration and voting processes used in federal elections” and submitting a report to President Donald Trump. Vice President Mike Pence is the commission’s chairman.

The commission was established by executive order in May. Trump, following his November election victory, claimed that millions of illegal immigrants voted in the election, costing him the popular vote. Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton received more votes than Trump, though her loss in a number of key swing states cost her the Electoral College.

To date, neither Trump nor the White House has provided evidence to support the president’s claims of widespread voter fraud. Politifact, a website that tracks statements made by politicians, has repeatedly debunked the president’s voter fraud claims.

However, alleged voter fraud has long been a focus of Kobach’s. Kansas has strict voter ID legislation, and in 2011 voters there passed Kobach’s Kansas Secure and Fair Elections Act into law. The measure requires Kansas voters to show photographic identification when voting in person, to provide a Kansas driver’s license or “non-driver ID” when voting by mail, and to prove U.S. citizenship when registering.

Critics of voter ID laws such as those have argued that despite the fact that the laws are promoted as a means to eliminate voter fraud, they actually provide an unfair barrier to voting.

The Chicago Tribune reported that Kobach was fined $1,000 by a federal judge earlier this month for “presenting misleading evidence in a voting-related lawsuit.”

The American Civil Liberties Union has sued Kobach four times over his “efforts to prevent people from voting,” the organization said in a statement earlier this month.

“(Kobach) lost all four cases,” the statement said.

Kobach claimed in February that the White House had evidence of voters being registered in more than one state. He told Fox Business reporter Neil Cavuto in an interview that “In Kansas … we have an expert who has analyzed our voter rolls and thinks as many as 18,000 non-citizens could be on the rolls and many of them voting.”

However, since Kobach’s SAFE Act became law, only six cases of voter fraud have been prosecuted. A Washington Post analysis of voter fraud from January found four instances of fraudulent voting in the November 2016 election — three of which resulted in votes for Trump. The other example found by the Post involved a Florida woman who appeared to have voted fraudulently in a local mayor’s race, not in the presidential election.

Correction: This story initially incorrectly listed the number of alleged attempted illegal votes. There were 18 allegations of illegal voting made following the 2016 presidential election. 

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Dylan Goforth

Editor in Chief/Staff Writer

Dylan is a news junkie, fantasy sports advocate and QuikTrip addict. When he's not refreshing Twitter, setting too many fantasy lineups or munching on a taquito, he spends his time covering crime and social issues in Tulsa and around the state. Contact: dylan@readfrontier.com or 918-931-9405.
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