Do you remember that presidential election commission organized by President Trump and its request to the states for voter registration information? So far 14 states have refused, as catalogued in this piece at NPR, California among them. The response from California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to the request by the commission is here. It reads in part:
The President’s commission has requested the personal data and the voting history of every American voter–including Californians. As Secretary of State, it is my duty to ensure the integrity of our elections and to protect the voting rights and privacy of our state’s voters. I will not provide sensitive voter information to a commission that has already inaccurately passed judgment that millions of Californians voted illegally. California’s participation would only serve to legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud made by the President, the Vice President, and Mr. Kobach. The President’s Commission is a waste of taxpayer money and a distraction from the real threats to the integrity of our elections today: aging voting systems and documented Russian interference in our elections
Voter registrations are public records. Under the California Public Records Act, modeled after the federal Freedom of Information Act, he is required to provide that information—it does not fit under the exemptions listed in the act. The state routinely provides that information to political parties, candidates, polling organizations, and others. There is no presidential commission exception to the law.
Fortunately for the secretary of state, CPRA presently carries no penalties. Fortuitously, a bill, supported by the state’s major media outlets, is making its way through the California legislature that would impose penalties for non-compliance. The penalty is nominal but it’s something.
Most if not all states have similar public records acts. California and the other states that have refused to supply the voter registrations should comply. That is what it means to have a rule of law. Civil servants have no right of civil disobedience. Such a thing would be tyranny. They do have the right to resign rather than obey laws they believe to be wrong.
This post was originally published at The Glittering Eye.