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Peter MarcusPeter MarcusJuly 27, 20175min100

Colorado’s Republican Secretary of State, Wayne Williams, received a renewed request on Wednesday from the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity for voter data.

Williams’ office said the renewed request came with several changes that had been proposed by his office following an outcry.

The commission had initially put a hold on submitting data until a judge ruled on a lawsuit that’s trying to block the release. Williams had agreed to send the commission voter data that he’s legally allowed to provide to anyone who asks.

Following the initial request from the White House election commission, Williams on July 14 sent a letter outlining Colorado’s processes. He notified the commission that certain information, including date of birth and Social Security numbers, is confidential under Colorado law.

The secretary of state requested two changes, including that publicly available data would be transmitted “in a secure manner,” and that “all data” received by the commission “should be secured,” according to a news release from his office. The commission on Wednesday agreed to Williams’ recommendations.

“The Commission’s adoption of our requested changes with respect to securing the publicly available data represents a significant improvement over the procedures proposed initially,” Williams said in a statement. “As with any request we receive for public information, we must comply with Colorado law.”

The commission, headed by Vice President Mike Pence, its chair, and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, was created in May by President Trump to examine vulnerabilities in election systems “that could lead to improper voter registrations, improper voting, fraudulent voter registrations, and fraudulent voting.”

Kobach, in the initial letter delivered to state officials on June 28, asked state officials to submit the publicly available information from each state’s voter rolls, including full names and addresses, dates of birth, party affiliation, driver’s license numbers, the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers, voting history going back a decade, felony convictions and military and overseas voter status.

The request was met with a storm of criticism from advocacy groups and officials questioning the commission’s motives and voters unhappy their records would be sent to Washington. Williams found himself facing much of the criticism in Colorado, despite the secretary of state promising not to share confidential information, including Social Security numbers.

Thousands of Coloradans withdrew from the voter rolls in the wake of the request, with Democrats withdrawing at a rate much higher than Republicans, highlighting the political nature of the backlash.

Left-leaning groups urged Williams to refuse to comply with the request, though the secretary of state repeatedly stressed that he would only share information available to anyone who asks and pays a nominal fee. Voter records are routinely requested and made available to political parties, campaigns and news outlets.

“It’s my hope that citizens who withdrew their registration will re-register, particularly once they realize that no confidential information will be provided and that the parties and presidential candidates already have the same publicly available information from the 2016 election cycle,” Williams said.


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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirJuly 11, 20175min221
Amber F. McReynolds

Regarding the letter from the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity and the request to states for voter information:

I have administered elections in the City and County of Denver for over 12 years and our team has made it our mission to improve the voting experience for all eligible citizens by creating innovative solutions to better serve customers and improve operations.  We come to work every day excited about the responsibility and opportunity to serve as election officials.  For us, it is about administering one of the most sacred and essential rights we have as Americans.

We have tirelessly worked to make voter registration more efficient and convenient to encourage civic engagement.

I never expected to come to work and see such a sudden increase in voter registration withdrawals.  I never expected to see more withdrawals in a day than new registrations.

The impact on voters is real.   The impact on civic engagement is real.  The impact on election offices is real.  Colorado has the highest registration rate as a percentage of population, and if this week’s trend continues, that could quickly change.  Here is the breakdown in Denver since Monday July 3, ironically, the day before our nation celebrated its independence: (the percentage increase compares the same types of voter transactions over the same number of days during the week of June 26.)

  1. 2,150% increase in voter registration withdrawals.
  2. 1,833% increase in walk-in transactions with voters.
  3. 790% increase in email communications from voters.
  4. 247% increase in phone calls from voters.

Here is a sampling of voter comments:

“It seems like an assault on our personal freedoms – of speech and privacy first and foremost.”

“I have concerns that my individually-identifiable information would be misused for illegitimate purposes.  I sincerely hope that the Denver Elections Division does not support, or respond to, any such requests involving private information in the future.”

“I am sending this email to state my objection to providing any private information to the commission, should the Denver Elections Division (or the Colorado Secretary of State) be pressured in the future to provide such information.”

“Again, thank you for your efforts in protecting our voting integrity.  What we are also gravely concerned about is the follow-up letter coming from the DOJ.  Their demand seems very ominous.  Will our confidential forms protect us from their demands?  It appears that the DOJ may have more clout against the states who want to protect voting rights.”

“I am officially requesting that you DO NOT release my name to the federal government, in terms of my act of voting, or my voting record, or any information at all.  Voting should remain a citizen’s private duty, and there is no need to do this. “

“Due to the decision to have my information given without my permission, I would like to have the form sent to me that allows me to unregister as a voter.  Please send ASAP.”

“I’m afraid to withdraw my voter registration because some law or rule may change in the interim that won’t allow me to register again.”

“I appreciate that you are handling this matter thoughtfully and with the best interest of Colorado voters in mind.”

According to a recent Pew Research Center study, the top three rights that Americans view as essential to their freedom are the freedom of speech, the right to vote, and the right to privacy. It is understandable that Americans are concerned about this situation.

The Denver Elections Division has fought to modernize election processes and conduct fair, accurate, secure, transparent, efficient elections for our voters. As this issue plays out, it is imperative that the voices of voters and the professionals who are responsible for the day-to-day conduct of elections are heard.