The panel was set up by President Donald Trump after he made unsubstantiated allegations that as many as 5 million people voted illegally last November. He tweeted then, "In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally."
As some attacked the request nationally, Cox issued a statement saying, "Similar to most states, Utah law requires voter registration records be public documents that can be obtained by any person or entity who submits an appropriate records request" — so he will provide them. He will not, however, turn over the last four digits of Social Security numbers, which are protected information.
"I assure the voters of Utah that we will only provide information that is otherwise available to the public," said Cox, a Republican. "The publicly available records do not include protected personal information like the voter's Social Security and driver license number."
Cox also said, "There has been no evidence of mass voter fraud in Utah and we look forward to helping the federal government understand the steps we have taken to ensure the security and validity of Utah's elections."
When Trump first aired his voter-fraud allegations in the election's wake, Cox decried his unsubstantiated assertions as "dangerous" and corrosive to public confidence in U.S. elections
Meanwhile, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, a Democrat, said in a statement a day earlier, "I will not provide sensitive voter information to a commission that has already inaccurately passed judgment that millions of Californians voted illegally."
Padilla added, "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 Kris Kobach, vice chairman of the panel who sent the letter, who is also the Kansas secretary of state and a vocal opponent of illegal immigration.
Connecticut Secretary of State Denise Merrill, a Democrat, issued a statement attacking Kobach, and questioned why he and the commission are seeking the data.
"Given Secretary Kobach's history, we find it very difficult to have confidence in the work of this commission," she said, adding that Kobach "has a lengthy record of illegally disenfranchising eligible voters in Kansas" and listed some court cases involved.
Kobach did not say in his letter exactly why the commission seeks the state's voter rolls, other than they are needed to "fully analyze vulnerabilities and issues related to voter registration and voting."
However, Kobach has advocated comparing state voter rolls with other government databases to identify noncitizens or others who cannot legally register. Civil rights groups worry such comparisons often lead to error and that legitimate voters may be removed from rolls.
Like Trump, Kobach has been quoted saying he believes a million Americans or more voted illegally in the presidential election last year.
Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, tweeted that Vice President Mike "Pence and Kobach are laying the groundwork for voter suppression, plain & simple."
Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause, called the commission and its request "nothing more than a partisan attempt to manipulate our voting processes that will make it harder for eligible Americans to vote."
Utah Democratic Party Chairwoman Daisy Thomas also attacked the request for voter information.