WASHINGTON — While 44 states and the District of Columbia have refused to provide certain types of voter information to the Trump administration’s election integrity commission, officials in Colorado say they will provide public information.
In Colorado, public information includes full name, residential address, party affiliation and date of affiliation, phone number (if provided by the voter), gender identity, birth year, and information about whether you have voted in prior elections.
“The Secretary of State is required by the law to give this information to any member of the public who asks for it,” the secretary of state’s website states.
Social Security number, driver’s license number, full date of birth and email address are confidential.
Sen. Michael Bennet issued said the action might impact elections as a whole.
“The Commission’s request for information, which includes a portion of each Colorado voter’s Social Security number, raises serious privacy concerns and may discourage participation in the electoral process,” Bennet said in a statement.
Colorado does have a procedure to allow certain voters to block the release of their address.
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Officials said Colorado voter information is expected to be turned over to the election integrity commission on July 14.
President Donald Trump created the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity by executive order in May.
Last week, the vice chairman of the commission, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, sent a letter to all 50 states requesting a bevy of voter data that data will eventually be made available to the public.
The information the commission is seeking includes:
- Full name
- Dates of birth
- Political party
- Last four digits of Social Security numbers
- A list of the elections voted in since 2006
- Felony convictions
- Voter registration information from other states
- Military status
- Whether voters lived overseas
Some state leaders and voting boards across the country have rejected the request altogether. Colorado, Missouri and Tennessee commended the attempt to investigate voter fraud.
“We are very glad they are asking for information before making decisions. I wish more federal agencies would ask folks for their opinion and for information before they made decisions,” Secretary of State Wayne Williams said in a news release.
Williams stated his office will release voter-roll information that is public under state law but withhold data that is confidential.
The request for voter information came months after Trump claimed without evidence that millions had voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election.
When states began to express concerns about the legality of his administration’s efforts to investigate voter fraud, Trump called them out on Twitter on Saturday, questioning whether they were hiding something.
“Numerous states are refusing to give information to the very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL. What are they trying to hide?” Trump tweeted.
The letter twice requests only “public” voter information, and Kobach clarified the specifics of his request Friday.
“Every state receives the same letter, but we’re not asking for it if it’s not publicly available,” he told The Kansas City Star.
Kobach also said last week, “Whatever a person on the street can walk in and get, that’s what we would like.”
Kobach cited a Pew Center on the States study from February 2012 that called for revisions of state voter registration lists.
“The Pew Center estimated last year that 1.8 million deceased people are still on the voter rolls throughout the states,” Kobach said.
“They said that’s an estimate. They think it’s a low estimate. Now, for the first time, we can actually bounce the states’ voter rolls against the Social Security administration’s own database to find out how many of those people actually are on the voter rolls.”
The Kansas secretary of state also addressed the criticism from several secretaries of state over the past few days that the commission might be seeking to legitimize Trump’s assertions that widespread voter fraud cost him votes in November.
“First of all, the commission is not to prove or disprove what the President speculated about in January,” Kobach said. “The purpose of the commission is to find facts and put them on the table. Importantly, it’s a bipartisan commission.”
But the commission, which is chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, seemed to misunderstand voter privacy laws nationwide.
Every state that responded to the commission’s letter said it could not provide Social Security numbers, for example. Others said they consider information such as birth dates and party affiliations to be private.
What’s more, Kobach asked states to supply the information through an online portal. Many states have rejected this specific request, noting that the commission should file a voter information request through established state websites, as any other party would.