Secretary of State must protect Colorado voters’ rights
Colorado must be prepared to resist the Trump administration’s nationwide voter suppression campaign that will disenfranchise huge numbers—the Colorado ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) says thousands or even millions—of voters if it succeeds. “This campaign will be based on lies and myths about voter fraud, and it will be carried out under the name of ‘election integrity’,” the ACLU warns.
Using the frame of “election integrity,” VP Mike Pence and Republican vote suppression specialist Kris Kobach have demanded that secretaries of state in all 50 states submit extensive personal information about every registered voter in their state by July 14 to a centralized “Presidential Commission on Election Integrity.”
The data base compiled by the commission will include names, addresses, birthdates, the last four digits of Social Security numbers, voting histories, military service, felony information, and much more.
“It looks like they’re putting together a database of who people voted for,” says Jason Kander, a former Missouri secretary of state who runs the non-profit group Let America Vote. “Democrat, Republican, independent, everybody should be outraged by that. This is from the same people, from Kris Kobach to Donald Trump, who’ve tried to make it harder for people to vote, and this seems like a step in the process.”
By the end of last week, 25 states were refusing to provide some or all of the information requested by the commission. Some states cited laws prohibiting release of voter information, while others based their refusal on the history and composition of the commission.
“This entire commission is based on the specious and false notion that there was widespread voter fraud last November,” Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) said in a statement. “At best this commission was set up as a pretext to validate Donald Trump’s alternative election facts, and at worst is a tool to commit large-scale voter suppression.”
California Secretary of State Alex Pedilla said providing the requested data to the Trump commission “would only serve to legitimate the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud” by Trump and his supporters.
On Saturday morning, Trump lashed out at state officials unwilling or unable to provide information to substantiate his voter fraud charges for “refusing to give information to the very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL” (sic).
“What are they trying to hide?” he twittered.
Rick Hansen, an election-law expert from University of California at Irvine explained to The Washington Post, “This is an attempt on a grand scale to purport to match voter rolls with other information in an apparent effort to try and show that the voter rolls are inaccurate and use that as a pretext to pass legislation that will make it harder for people to register to vote.”
Hansen said he had “no confidence” in any results the commission produces. It is, he charges, “an election group created by one candidate for office—Trump, who already is campaigning for reelection—and headed by Pence, another political candidate.”
“It’s just a recipe for a biased and unfair report,” Hansen said. “And it’s completely different from the way every other post-election commission has done.”
As Nathan Woodliff-Stanley writes on the ACLU Colorado Rights blog, “It is evident that the Trump administration is about to embark on a nationwide voter suppression campaign to disenfranchise thousands, or even millions, of voters”
In contrast to the holdout states, Colorado secretary of state Wayne Williams has indicated he will provide voter lists that are publically accessible to Pence and Kobach.
In view of the growing controversy over the potential abuse of voter information, Williams should join those states refusing to comply with demands to turn over detailed personal information to Trump’s “Presidential Commission on Election Integrity.”
Secretary of State Williams should refuse any cooperation not explicitly required by law, making it more difficult for Pence and Kobach to develop their database.
Anything more, as Woodliff-Stanley points out, “would be complicit in voter suppression.”