Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams turns over state voter data to White House commission

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams demonstrates an app to update voter registration information and status on National Voter Registration Day on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015, at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library in Denver. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams demonstrates an app to update voter registration information and status on National Voter Registration Day on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015, at the Blair-Caldwell African American Research Library in Denver. (Photo by Ernest Luning/Colorado Politics)

Colorado’s secretary of state’s office successfully submitted voter data Tuesday to a White House commission on election fraud, capping a month of heated controversy over the request.

The office was unable to send the data on Monday, as originally planned, due to a computer glitch, but received confirmation the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity had received the records Tuesday afternoon, a spokeswoman for Secretary of State Wayne Williams told Colorado Politics.

More than 5,000 Colorado voters have withdrawn their voter registration since the commission requested the data in late June, prompting pleas from Williams and a host of county election officials for voters to get back on the rolls. While officials said the number of voters canceling their registration was unusually high in July, some also pointed out that the total was still a minuscule fraction of the state’s more than 3.33 million active registered voters.

Williams said on June 29 that he planned to fulfill a request from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the vice chairman of the commission, by providing the same publicly available information that would be available to anyone who asks — but Williams stressed he would hold back requested data considered confidential, such as precise birthdates and any part of a voter’s Social Security number.

Kobach’s request met  a furious, bipartisan backlash from officials and advocacy groups concerned about claims made by President Donald Trump, who created the commission after stating without evidence that millions of votes were cast illegally in the 2016 election.

The commission asked states to delay sending the data in mid July pending resolution of a lawsuit by privacy advocates challenging the commission on procedural grounds but renewed the request late last week. Colorado officials submitted data current as of close of business Monday, said Julia Sunny, social media coordinator for Williams’ office.

Jena Griswold, a Democrat running for secretary of state in next year’s election, called it “troubling” that Williams has been attempting to submit the data in the face of lawsuits and complaints.

“More than 5,300 Coloradans have cancelled their voter registrations due to legitimate concerns about this Commission,” Griswold said in a statement Tuesday. “We must condemn the Trump election commission both because of its untruthful premise and because of its chilling effect on our democracy. As secretary of state, I will stand up for Colorado and prevent any attempts by the Trump administration to roll back our voting rights.”

Williams maintained throughout the month that he was simply following the law, which makes certain voter records public.

“The context is that they’re asking for the information that is publicly available, and we will provide the publicly available information — just like anyone in the state can grab a CD of it for 50 bucks,” he told Colorado Politics. He added that political parties, candidates, media organizations and academic institutions regularly purchase voter data identical to what his office planned to deliver to the commission.

“We never demand that you only get the information for proper purposes,” Williams said. “That would kind of eviscerate the entire concept of open records.”

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One Response to Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams turns over state voter data to White House commission

  1. Scott Weiser August 1, 2017 at 10:45 pm #

    …as he was required by law to do. Good for him.

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