The Presidential Advisory Committee on Election Integrity, led by Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach just sent a letter to all 50 Secretaries of State to gain access to personal information on registered voters. Kocach is also inquiring from the Secretaries of State to provide details of possible voter fraud cases, law changes to “protect voter integrity,” and how the commission can do to “support local and state election administrators with regard to information technology security and vulnerabilities.”
The letter, made public by the Connecticut Secretary of State, Denise Merrill, shows exactly what “personal information” Kobach is requesting.
“In order for the Commission to fully analyze vulnerabilities and issues related to voter registration and voting, I am requesting that you provide to the Commission the publicly- available voter roll data for Connecticut, including, if publicly available under the laws of your state, the full first and last names of all registrants, middle names or initials if available, addresses, dates of birth, political party (if recorded in your state), last four digits of social security number if available, voter history (elections voted in) from 2006 onward, active/inactive status, cancelled status, information regarding any felony convictions, information regarding voter registration in another state, information regarding military status, and overseas citizen information.”
The biggest catch is that “any documents that are submitted to the full Commission will also be made available to the public” warned Kobach.
This idea is not sitting well with many people, including Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
“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. This meritless inquisition opens the door for a misguided and ill-advised Commission to take steps to target and harass voters and could lead to purging of the voter rolls.
We urge Secretaries of State who received a letter from Kris Kobach to reject this request and discourage state and local officials from participating in this Commission’s dangerous activities.
Today’s action underscores the fact that the Election Integrity Commission is operating in a reckless manner and its activities threaten to have a chilling effect on minority voters.
We encourage the public to contact 866-OUR-VOTE to report complaints or any suspicious activity regarding the activities of the Election Integrity Commission.
We know that voting discrimination and voter suppression are the real threats to American democracy and we will resist the Commission’s attempt to divert federal resources and attention away from these problems.”
Multiple reports have concluded that in-person voter impersonation is extremely rare. There have only been four cases in the last ten years of confirmed voter fraud with hundreds of thousands of votes cast. However this did not stop President Trump from claiming that millions voted illegally.
NH’s Secretary of State Bill Gardner has made clear—as recently as the February 14, 2017 edition of the Concord Monitor—that he has found no proof supporting President Trump’s baseless allegation that thousands of Massachusetts residents were bused to New Hampshire to cast ballots against him. Secretary Gardner’s office also has repeatedly said—correctly—that there is no widespread voter fraud here.
Today on MSNBC, NH’s Governor Sununu said he would “comply” with the federal government’s Presidential Commission on Voting Integrity’s request for voter information.
The act of handing over certain confidential voter information is illegal under New Hampshire state law, specifically RSA 654:31-a. Since no individual instances of voter fraud are being investigated by the commission, state law prohibits Governor Sununu or Secretary of State Bill Gardner from disclosing birthdates or social security information, as Kobach requested. This information is maintained by the Secretary of State’s Office and the governor has no authority under state law to authorize its release.
“It is disappointing that Governor Sununu has chosen the Trump administration’s unwarranted request over the privacy of Granite Staters. He is once again falling in line behind President Trump and pledging to hand over our highly personal information to a federal government commission created at best to soothe the President’s ego, and at worst, undermine the integrity of our elections and disenfranchise millions of voters,” said NHDP Chair Ray Buckley. “It is outrageous that Governor Sununu is characteristically shooting from the hip rather than taking the time to understand what is best for the citizens of New Hampshire. Granite Staters will hold Sununu accountable for putting the privacy of our most personal information at risk to once again cozy up to the Trump administration and its dangerous effort to combat a problem that doesn’t exist.”
Gilles Bissonnette, legal director of the ACLU of New Hampshire, told the New Hampshire Union Leader, “there are strict state laws limiting how much information about voter files can be turned over or made public.”
“We expect that the secretary of state will not honor any request to produce information that is private and confidential. Any transfer of information must be in full compliance with all state disclosure laws. The Commission should not be able to obtain information that is unavailable to any ordinary member of the public.
Unfortunately, this Commission likely will be a pretext to enact new restrictions on the right to vote. Led by Mr. Kobach1, it is based on the false premise that there was widespread voter fraud last November. Yet New Hampshire conducts fair, honest, and democratic elections, and there is no evidence of significant voter fraud here. The Secretary of State’s Office2 and the Governor3 have both repeatedly acknowledged that there is no widespread voter fraud in the Granite State. Once again, our expectation is that, while on this Commission, Secretary Gardner will only join conclusions in the Commission’s final report that support voting rights and are based on actual proven facts.”
Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) today urged New Hampshire to deny the Trump Election Commission’s request for personal voter data. In a letter to Governor Chris Sununu and to Secretary Gardner, who is a member of the Commission, Shea-Porter asked the state to join five others that have already denied the frivolous and intrusive request.
“I write to urge you to deny the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity’s request for the personal information of every registered New Hampshire voter. In a letter addressed to you, the Commission requested the name, last four Social Security digits, birthdate, political affiliation, address, military status, and voting history of nearly one million Granite Staters. Secretary Gardner, as a member of the Commission, it is imperative that you both deny this request and inform your fellow members that this misguided effort is unacceptable and deeply troubling.
“As you know, we Granite Staters greatly value our privacy rights. We are the “Live Free or Die” state, and this request is undoubtedly an assault on our freedom. This request violates the privacy of our state’s residents and represents an unprecedented intrusion by the federal government into our state’s electoral data. California, Connecticut, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, and Virginia have already refused this request. The New Hampshire Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union has indicated that full compliance with this request would violate our state’s laws governing the public disclosure of voter information.
“In closing, I urge you to shield New Hampshire voters from this historic federal intrusion into law-abiding Americans’ right to privacy whose only “offense” was exercising their Constitutional right to vote. This could further dampen participation in our elections. Therefore, it is necessary for you both to publicly reassure our state’s voters that you will not comply with the Trump Commission’s demand.”
Contact Governor Sununu and urge him not to comply with Kobach’s request and to keep our personal information, private.
Kobach’s full letter to Connecticut Sec of State is attached below.
NHPR reports that Sec Gardner will comply with the request made by Kobach and the Election Integrity commission.
PEIC Letter to Connecticut
Faced with a flurry of questions from the press and the public about the state’s response, Gardner said he wanted to emphasize that some of the information mentioned in the letter — like social security numbers — won’t be provided to the commission because it’s not part of New Hampshire’s public voter checklists.
“What is public is what has been public for decades. In this state, every town and city clerk must keep every checklist they use in an election for at least five years so that any citizen can go in and look at the checklists,” Gardner said in an interview Friday afternoon in his office, where staffers spent the day fielding calls about the state’s plans to participate in the request.
“Checklists have always included names, addresses and party affiliation, if there is a party affiliation. So that’s all that’s being asked of us.”