It’s billed as an attempt to stop voter fraud, but not everyone is buying what the new Commission on Election Integrity is selling. “There’s been a lot of talk about voter fraud, but there’s very little evidence of any voter fraud in the United States,” says Andrea Young from the Georgia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.
President Trump created the commission after the November election and as part of his allegations that he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton because “millions of illegal aliens voted.” There is no proof to back up any of his allegations according to many Secretaries of State around the country.
The Commission recently sent letters to all those Secretaries of State to request a laundry list of information on individual register voters which includes name, address, date of birth, social security and driver’s license number, party affiliation and such things as a criminal record.
It’s information that election officials in several states (including Blue and Red) find intrusive and it’s information those state officials say they won’t provide.
“Our concern is what would be the good of amassing all this information at a centralized location,” said Young.
She says Americans are already dealing with worries about hacking into individual state systems (from the Russians.) She questions if it would be wise to store voter information for the entire country in one place, saying there’s been little if any assurance from the federal government that it has a system in place to protect this sensitive personal data and to her mind, has not offered a good enough explanation for why the Feds should have it. “He’s asked for party affiliation, what’s the purpose of that?,” said Young. I think people people of any political party should be concerned about names and this kind of personal information in some massive database somewhere in Washington.”
Another issue for Young is the person selected to serve head of the new commission, i.e. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach who’s made a name for himself by by trying to root out voter fraud in his own state but several national stories say he has found only about one dozen legitimate cases after combing the Kansas voter database which is about 1.5 million voters. “It’s hard with the things he’s (Kobach) already done that this is about voter fraud when it really points to voter suppression, especially for young voters.
Young says one issue can be that voters with similar names are purged. She says imagine how many John Smiths there may be nationwide for example. She says sometimes when we move from one state to another, our names may not be taken out of that state’s database for years. “But it hardly means you are voting in two places,” she said.
Young believes the voter purging can affect young people in particular who are more mobile. “There’s a lot of mischief to be done in something like this,” she told us. “What disturbs me the most is that at the same time, Congress is voting to limit funding to programs that help states improve their voter systems, that help states for example prevent hacking into the voter system/ And we think it’s important that Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp not turn over confidential information but certainly I think he should go further and say he won’t participate in this because of the potential damage of the right to vote of the people in Georgia and Georgians who may move to another city.”
Meanwhile, the Secretary of State’s office told us it will provide “some” of the information, but not all. It says some like social security and driver’s license number are sensitive data. It won’t provide them and also will not provide someone’s phone number or email address. But it says it will provide information that is now available to the public which includes name and address as well as if you voted in a recent primary. In the case of a primary, the party affiliation for which you voted would be provided since the state told us that is public information.