Defying Trump's voter data request was 'easy' for Murray

Sep 29, 2017 By Daniel Bendtsen, Staff Writer

Secretary of State Ed Murray said that with national attention focused on issues of voter fraud, he's backing legislation he believes will show Wyoming's elections are free from "nefarious activities."

"I want to be very, very tough on fraud," he told The Ranger.

He describes himself as a "die-hard Republican" and "a very conservative person."

However, he wasn't going to put party loyalty before state sovereignty when President Donald Trump's administration asked him for voter data.

In July, Murray became one of only eight - out of 27 - top Republican election officials to defy Trump's request for voter data from states.

Trump has made unsubstantiated assertions that "millions" of people voted illegally in last year's general election. After his inauguration, he established the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which asked states to turn over voter data that includes party affiliation, felony records, birthdates and voter history.

After many state officials refused the request, Trump lambasted them on Twitter.

"Numerous states are refusing to give information to the very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL. What are they trying to hide?" he tweeted July 1.

After "carefully considering the request," Murray announced two days later that he would not provide the requested voter information, worrying that it could "lead to a federal overreach."

"In reviewing the Commission's request, I am not at all convinced that it has clearly stated its purpose is connected to the information requested," he said in a prepared statement at the time.

Murray told The Ranger that some people, "in their loyalty to the President and from a political perspective," criticized him for not releasing that data.

"I've experienced some heat," he said.

Except for West Virginia, Wyoming has the highest approval rating for Trump, according to recent Gallup polling.

Wyoming is also the state where Trump had his largest margin of victory.

Even so, Murray said that not releasing the data was "still the right decision and an easy decision," especially since the U.S. Constitution delegates responsibility of running elections to the states.

"The Constitution trumps the request from our president," he said. "I don't want to participate in response to a request from the federal government, whether Republican or Democrat, that violates our state sovereignty."

Murray also said he felt uncomfortable that the request sought "some serious personal information" of voters.

After former US. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyoming, announced last week she would not run for governor in 2018, Murray is now seen as a frontrunner to succeed Gov. Matt Mead.

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