Colorado SOS Wayne Williams says he’ll turn over publicly available voter data to White House election commission, withhold private info

Author: Ernest Luning - June 29, 2017 - Updated: June 30, 2017

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 Secretary of State Wayne Williams said Thursday he plans to fulfill a White House commission’s request for detailed state voter data by providing the same publicly available information that would be available to anyone who asks — but he’ll hold back certain data considered confidential.

Along with every other secretary of state in the country, Williams received a letter Wednesday detailing the request from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a co-chair of the bipartisan Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which was created last month by President Donald Trump to examine vulnerabilities in election systems “that could lead to improper voter registrations, improper voting, fraudulent voter registrations and fraudulent voting.”

The commission, which is co-chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, is seeking a raft of information from state election officials on their voter rolls, including full names and addresses, dates of birth, party affiliation, voting history going back a decade, felony convictions, military and overseas citizen status.

Kobach also asked his colleagues to share their thoughts on a variety of topics, including evidence of registration and voter fraud, technology security and voter disenfranchisement.

Democratic election officials and voting-rights groups greeted the request with howls of outrage, with some secretaries of state saying they will refuse to comply with the commission’s request.

“The president’s commission is a waste of taxpayer money and a distraction from the real threats to the integrity of our elections today: aging voting systems and documented Russian interference in our elections,” said California Secretary of State Alex Padilla in a statement.

Former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, who heads the Let America Vote watchdog organization, sounded the alarm.

“It’s obviously very concerning when the federal government is attempting to get the name, address, birth date, political party and Social Security number of every voter in the country,” he said in a statement. “I certainly don’t trust the Trump administration with that information, and people across the country should be outraged.”

Williams told Colorado Politics he was baffled by some of the reaction.

“I don’t understand the political posturing,” he said in an interview.

“Colorado’s going to participate, we’re going to provide the publicly available information just like we do to anyone else that asks, and certainly we want the opportunity to provide input as to how the process can be better,” Williams said, noting that the commission had requested some data that Colorado law considers confidential and could put voters at risk of identity theft — such as birthdate and the last four digits of a voter’s Social Security number. (The state does provide birth year with voter data.)

“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 said, sounding bemused at the controversy. “It’s not like this information couldn’t be gotten by other means, but I’d much rather it be gotten from authoritative sources.”

Williams noted that political parties and candidates regularly purchase voter data identical to what his office plans to hand over to the White House commission. “We never demand that you only get the information for proper purposes,” he said. “That would kind of eviscerate the entire concept of open records.”

Williams said he would huddle with staff over the next week to consider Kobach’s questions about various election integrity matters and would share his responses with the public when he submits them. But he added that he thought it refreshing that the commission was asking for suggestions before starting its work.

“I am glad that you have a federal agency that is asking for input and information before they make decisions because so often at the federal level you have entities that don’t ask those questions until after they’ve already made a preliminary or a final decision,” Williams said. “I wish more federal agencies would do that.”

Describing Kobach’s questions as “neutral,” Williams said he was interested in raising issues surrounding potential voter intimidation “when we move away from voting in a pristine polling place,” like Colorado has done with its recent shift to nearly all mail balloting.

He also said he plans to suggest the commission consider encouraging membership in ERIC, which stands for Electronic Registration Information Center and is a voluntary association of 21 states that share voter data to determine whether people might be registered to vote in more than one state.

Critics of the commission have said they’re alarmed by numerous statements made by Trump and Kobach claiming the country’s electoral system is plagued with massive voter fraud, including charges that millions voted illegally in the last election.

“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,” Trump tweeted after the election.

“We fully condemn actions taken today by the president’s Election Integrity Commission seeking disclosure of data and personal information on virtually every voter across the country,” said Kristen Clarke, executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in a statement. “This meritless Inquisition opens the door for a misguided and ill-advised commission to take steps to target and harass voters.”

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning

Ernest Luning is a political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has covered politics and government for newspapers and online news sites in Colorado for more than 25 years, including at the Highlands Ranch Herald, the Jefferson Sentinels chain of community newspapers and the Aurora Sentinel, where he was the city hall and cops reporter. After editing the Aurora Daily Sun, he was a political reporter and blogger for The Colorado Independent site. For nearly a decade, he was a senior political reporter and occasional editor at The Colorado Statesman before the 119-year-old publication merged with Colorado Politics in 2017.


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  • Vicki Hasty

    June 30, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    Do not send any personal information to the Trump administration.

  • Jan

    June 30, 2017 at 8:22 pm

    If the Don-Don wants voter information, let him Google it himself. This is just another trump administration diversion tactic.

  • Sandra Biggs

    June 30, 2017 at 8:23 pm

    this will be most unpopular & unpopular decision this Trump sheep will ever make! how dare he concede to this corrupt, treasonous, traitor Trump! we do not want our information give to this pervert! give him info on people who voted for him, I DID NOT!! THIS IS A WASTE OF TIME & INFRINGEMENT OF OUR PRIVACY!! THIS JERK LOST POPULAR VOTE BY NEARLY 4 MILLION, I DESPISE THIS PSYCHOPATH! HIS EGO SO DELICATE HE CAN’T STAND THOUGHT SO UNLIKED! T YOU ARE A TRUMP PUNDIT!!!

  • Patricia Vaughn

    June 30, 2017 at 8:57 pm

    Do not send my private information to this corrupt voter suppression administration.

  • Nancy Dowling

    June 30, 2017 at 9:02 pm

    I do NOT authorize you to send my former Colorado voter information to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

    Nancy Lenthe Dowling

    June 30, 2017

    • Mike

      June 30, 2017 at 10:12 pm

      It’s public record and available to anyone, or did you not read?

      • Steve

        July 1, 2017 at 10:28 pm

        My social security number is NOT public record.

      • Deone

        July 2, 2017 at 11:52 am

        Do you want any numbers of your social security in a national data base that is susceptible to hackers?? It is not impossible for criminals to figure out the unlisted numbers. This is not necessary at all and the request is based on a total lie.

  • Cue Miller

    June 30, 2017 at 9:44 pm

    This is the start of a nationwide voter suppression attempt by the Trump Administration.

    Kris Kobach, known for voter suppression data manipulation in Kansas, dreamed up this plan and apparently sold it to Tr*mp who then created the commission. Tr*mp’s obsession with losing the popular vote and blaming it on imaginary undocumented voters has made him a real patsy for such a scheme.

    There is no reason for the national government to have this data except to use against voters.

    I am furious that Williams would stoop to releasing ANY information for such fraudulent use.

    • Mike

      June 30, 2017 at 11:01 pm

      How many times do you folks have to be told: This is public information, subject to the Colorado Open Records Act, and therefore CANNOT be withheld from anyone who files a proper request for it. And “anyone” includes the federal government, your neighbor, or a random person down the street. This emotional eruption is childish and absurd, but oh-so-typical of the left.

    • Yolanda J

      July 1, 2017 at 1:38 pm

      This administration went from scary to deranged. Thanks for the background on Kobach

  • Linda Fredrick

    June 30, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    No voter data, until The President releases his taxes for all to see. Privacy is privacy.

    • Jennifer

      June 30, 2017 at 11:19 pm


  • Mike

    June 30, 2017 at 10:17 pm

    Why is it always Democrats who oppose any effort to simply verify that only American citizens vote in American elections, and that they only get one vote each? Disagreement over certain details or methods might be reasonable, but instead Dems just throw up a brick wall every time and refuse to let anyone peek inside the black box. That certainly implies a number of things, none of them good.

    • Brian

      June 30, 2017 at 11:26 pm

      What makes you think non-citizens vote? What cases can you cite? You can’t? Then what is this which hunt about?

    • Kate

      July 1, 2017 at 4:46 pm

      MIKE, yes the state will be providing records that are openly available. Do not forget what trumps task force actually requested was far greater than that…social security numbers and demanding to know who I voted for, for the past 11 years., that is NONE of his business. If this was a gun registry Republicans would go crazy yet somehow they will willingly create a voter registry under ridiculous claims of fraud. Repubs should be ashamed.

    • Donna

      July 4, 2017 at 5:47 am

      Why do they have to know how we’ve voted? That is absolutely NOBODY’s business, the most egregious breach of the sanctity of the ballot possible. In this era and in the person of DJT, who seeks to extract loyalty pledges from minions, this is the slippery slope into authoritarianism. Resist it, bigly.

  • Sheri

    June 30, 2017 at 10:33 pm

    “Simply verify”?? This administration’s only goal is to corrupt and destroy our society. Colorado should NOT help them.

  • Jeanne

    June 30, 2017 at 10:46 pm

    Do not send voter data to this commission. This is the start of a nationwide voter suppression attempt by the Trump Administration.

    • Mike

      June 30, 2017 at 10:55 pm

      Once again, most of the info is public record and available to anyone per The Colorado Open Records Act. All of the liberal emoting going on here just serves to prove that the left values emotions over facts and logic.

      • Brian

        June 30, 2017 at 11:28 pm

        What? You must be kidding. The fact is that there is practically zero voter fraud. So again, what is this about?

  • Sheryl Pribula

    June 30, 2017 at 11:04 pm

    This sucks!!! How dare they ask for our voting record. If they don’t approve of our records, are they going to accuse us of voting fraudulently? We see what his Whitehouse treats anything they don’t find favorable to them. It’s very scary and feels like something a dictator would do.

  • Jennifer

    June 30, 2017 at 11:17 pm

    What a jerk. He is using this information to affect voter registration. Do not cooperate

  • Ron

    July 1, 2017 at 5:25 am

    This is not right.We can’t t trust a Republican attorney General. The R’s are 100% for corporations., And they’re multinational to boot?. Another way for them o cheat? Wake up people.

  • Laura Chappell

    July 1, 2017 at 6:36 am

    How dare you!

  • Laura Chappell

    July 1, 2017 at 6:37 am

    How dare you! Stop

  • Karen Skelly

    July 1, 2017 at 9:34 am

    He simply wants to use this info to manipulate the numbers and try to make it look like 3 million people voted illegally. He’s so angry about losing the majority vote that he will waste millions of tax payer dollars to try to prove otherwise. That’s his whole purpose (and probably to try to suppress voters in areas with minority voters).

  • Karen

    July 1, 2017 at 10:11 am

    Yes, it’s publicly available. I hope that the Trump administration is charged the same price for the large batch of information and time used as every other request. The king of pinch the purse strings needs to beheld to his own standard.

  • Joan Loughran

    July 1, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    It is wrong to share our information with the Trump administration. We do not authorize it.

  • William

    July 1, 2017 at 1:31 pm

    let’s cut through crap and acknowledge this release of Colorado voter info has nothing to do with fraud in this past election, especially here in our wonderful state of Colorado. What we have here is a tax payer funded side show begun the day Trump was sworn in as president. Our secratary of state is going along with this? I hope not. The president was disappointed with his own supporters for not showing up in VAST numbers Inauguration Day! Many probably couldn’t afford it and did nor really care about Trumps crowd number metrics. They care about their health, family, and jobs.
    If the current secratary of state of Colorado goes along with this tax payer funded charade, I for one will not be checking off this secratary in the next election. I vote independently.

  • Michele McManus

    July 1, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    Leave it to a republican to bring shame to the Great State of Colorado. Sad day when Mississippi does a better job of protecting their citizens personal information than Colorado. Perhaps the Colorado SOS has the same affinity trump does to Russia.

  • Littleton Sharon

    July 1, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    If the Feds are looking for possible voter fraud they should start with how each state identifies, verifies, and registers their voters. See if they are doing enough to insure voters are eligible to vote. Why spend money on an issue that might not apply to all?

  • Connor

    July 1, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    Contact Wayne and let him know your feelings about this request

    Wayne Williams email:

    Contact the Secretary of State’s Office

    Office Hours
    8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
    Monday – Friday

    1-855-428-3555 (toll free)

  • J C McWilliams

    July 1, 2017 at 10:11 pm

    What? Colorado is a BLUE state; do not share our personal, private info! Stand with 20 other states and just say NO! It is a “witch hunt” for voter fraud and you know it!

  • Joyce Gregor

    July 1, 2017 at 10:33 pm

    I have sent ane e-mail to Mr. Williams. Do not send my information to the goverment

  • Rosemary Aitken

    July 2, 2017 at 6:58 am

    There is no voter fraud and you know it. This is a step in the direction of voter purging and we won’t stand for it.

  • Colleen Boothe

    July 2, 2017 at 8:59 am

    DO NOT give ANYONE my voter information. It’s an unfounded claim. He should investigate Russia not us.

  • Ellen Coulter

    July 3, 2017 at 12:31 pm

    Please do NOT submit my private data. It is private. Trump does not need to know.

  • Ellen Coulter

    July 3, 2017 at 12:31 pm

    Please do not submit my personal data for this purpose.

  • Roberta Nypaver

    July 4, 2017 at 6:33 am

    Please do not release any voter information to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity and to any other Trump administration request.

  • Tyrone Braxton

    July 4, 2017 at 7:47 am

    I’m with a lot of my fellow responders, DO Not send my voter information to the feds. If they want it, let them google the info like everyone else.
    Furthermore, if Wayne Williams makes decisions without talking to the people from the State of Colorado, he should be dismissed from office.

  • MB Aguilos

    July 4, 2017 at 9:57 pm

    This is a betrayal of voter trust. My own state is among the very few states who chose to cooperate with this commission conceived with malice to weaken our democratic institution. Why?! What’s in it for you, SOS Williams? Will the release of my personal information make you a super hero of the Trump administration?

  • Jacqueline Hernandez-Barrow

    July 5, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    Mr. Trump can have the last four digits of my SS # when he shows me his 2015/2016 taxes!

  • Wanda Micheli

    July 6, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    You do not have my permission to turn over any of my information to the Trump administration.

  • Mary Hanna

    July 6, 2017 at 8:57 pm

    Sharing our personal information with the ethically and morally challenged Trump administration is a dangerous plan. Please show that you’re thinking as clearly as those Secretaries of State across the country who have determined this to be a bad idea.

Comments are closed.