When Colorado voters learned that their state is responding to President Trump’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity’s request for voter information, nearly 3,500 of them deregistered. The Hill made it political, claiming that they “have withdrawn their registrations … citing distrust of the [commission].” The news outlet also allowed that many didn’t know just how much of their personal information was already open to the public and, for whatever reason, decided to exercise their right to privacy.
The request from the commission stated simply that each state, and the District of Columbia, provide all
Publicly-available voter roll data including, if publicly available under the laws of your state, the full first and last names of all registrants, middle names or initials if available, addresses, dates of birth, political party (if recorded in your state), last four digits of Social Security number if available, [and] voter history from 2006 onward.
This was enough to trigger pushback and in some cases outrage at the obviously political overtones and implications of the request, in light of President Trump’s claim of voter fraud in the last election, and his selection of Hans von Spakovsky to the commission. Spakovsky’s initial appointment to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) by President George W. Bush back in 2005 was contested by Democrats and his nomination was withdrawn.
Some Democrats are claiming a witch hunt is taking place, and an effort to keep illegals from voting. As Alex Padilla, the Democrat activist who is California’s secretary of state, noted:
They’re clearly reached their conclusions already and have set up a commission to try to justify voter suppression measures being made nationally. It’s pretty shocking, the data request of a lot of personal information. I can’t even begin to entertain responding to this commission….
If you want to do [Russian President] Vladimir Putin a favor, put all of this personal voter information in one place, online, on the Internet.
Another Democrat who is also upset is Kentucky’s Secretary of State Alison Grimes, who echoed the “voter suppression” scheme of Padilla:
We don’t want to be a part of an attempt to nationalize voter suppression efforts across the state. Americans didn’t want, unanimously, a national gun registry, and they don’t want a national voter registry.
She added that the commission was “formulated on a sham premise” and violates states’ rights to run their own elections.
To hear von Spakovsky tell it, it’s all about the 2012 study done by the Pew Center on the States: “The whole point of this commission is to research and look at all of these issues, the issues the Pew study raised.” That study claimed that America’s voter registration system is “inaccurate, costly, and inefficient.” It also said the system “reflects its 19th century origins [which] has not kept pace with advancing technology and a mobile society.”
Its conclusions included these:
Approximately 24 million — one of every eight — voter registrations in the United States are no longer valid or are significantly inaccurate;
More than 1.8 million deceased individuals are listed as voters; and
Approximately 2.75 million people have registrations in more than one state.
Although the author of the study said it didn’t indicate voter fraud, “these findings underscore the need for states to improve accuracy, cost-effectiveness, and efficiency.”
The study, however, provided too great a temptation for the federal government to get involved — innocently involved, of course. Marc Lotter, Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary, claimed that the request was innocuous, and von Spakovsky claimed that opposition to the commission’s request was “bizarre” because the request only asks for information that is already publicly available. But Lotter let slip that the information would be “housed through a federally secure system”, adding that “this is nothing unusual.” (Emphasis added.)
This is a variation on the theme: “Trust us; we know what we’re doing. Go back to sleep.”
Instead of having the executive branch of the government get involved with vote-fraud investigating, which is unconstitutional, David Becker, a Pew director, has already organized a joint pilot project involving eight states to try to make their voter lists more accurate. Said Becker: “What this system will do is it will take in data from the states who choose to participate … and it will be matched … [with] national change of address data from the Postal Service.”
Note the words “who choose to participate” as opposed to the innocuous “request” from Trump’s commission that comes with the unspoken threat of force. According to von Spakovsky, federal statutes already give the public the right to inspect publicly available voter registration records, adding that the attorney general can demand copies of records related to federal elections, if it comes to that.
How much better to keep the federales out of the matter altogether, and let Becker’s pilot program accomplish the same thing.
Perhaps Republican Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann from Mississippi has the right idea. In response to the commission’s “request”, he replied:
They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico, and Mississippi is a great state to launch from.