Kris Kobach, vice chair of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, said Wednesday that only 14 states and the District of Columbia have refused the commission's recent request for voter data, disputing reports that dozens of states had rejected the request.
"At present 20 states have agreed to provide the publicly available information requested by the commission and another 16 states are reviewing which information can be released under their state laws," Kobach said in a statement. "In all, 36 states have either agreed or are considering participating with the Commission's work to ensure the integrity of the American electoral system."
CNN reported on Wednesday that 44 states "have refused to give certain voter information" to the election commission, which President Trump created by executive order to examine weaknesses in the country's voting system.
But Kobach, who is also Kansas' secretary of state, blasted the report as "patently false." He argued that because up to 36 states had indicated a willingness to provide whatever information is permitted for release under the law, the suggestion that 44 states had rebuffed the request was misleading.
"While there are news reports that 44 states have 'refused' to provide voter information to the Commission, these reports are patently false, more 'fake news,'" he said. "At present only 14 states and the District of Columbia have refused the Commission's request for publicly available voter information. Despite media distortions and obstruction by a handful of state politicians, this bipartisan commission on election integrity will continue its work to gather the facts through public records requests to ensure the integrity of each American's vote because the public has a right to know."
Trump has taken fire for creating the election commission after asserting that millions of illegal votes robbed him of a victory in the popular vote. Critics have accued the president of calling for a voting inquiry simply to justify his claim, and many have questioned the scope of the commission, which they fear could lead to voter suppression.
Vice President Mike Pence leads the election commission, which operated in relative quiet before Kobach's request to all 50 states last week.