Pique With Williams Over Voter Data Gets Way Out of Hand

Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

As Denver7’s Blair Miller reports, anger at Republican Secretary of State Wayne Williams over his praise for a dubious “voter fraud” commission President Donald Trump has established to investigate his equally dubious claims of “millions” of fraudulent votes cast in last year’s elections has teamed up with anger’s friend misinformation–to produce an outcome in a small but growing number of cases that we don’t think anyone wants.

Except for those who want liberal registered voters to voluntarily un-register to vote.

At least two Colorado county clerks say they’ve seen a large increase in the number of people who have withdrawn their state voter registration since Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams said he would send the Trump administration’s election integrity commission some voter-roll information in accordance with state law.

Alton Dillard, a spokesperson for the Denver Elections Division, said 180 people have withdrawn their registration in the county since July 3. When compared to the eight people who withdrew their registration from June 26-29, it marks a 2,150 percent increase, according to Dillard.

Haley McKean, a spokeswoman with the Arapahoe County Clerk and Recorders Office said at least 160 people had withdrawn their registrations since July 1. She added that “dozens” of others had made their voter registration confidential.

The Adams County Clerk’s Office said “about 30 to 40” people were withdrawing their registrations each day over the past week. The Douglas County Clerk’s Office says it hasn’t had anyone withdraw their registration, however.

Let’s start with the most important fact: as we have said over and over since this controversy arose last week, the data that Williams is turning over to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s commission is already publicly available to anyone who requests it. It has been available for many years in electronic form, updated regularly with data from the county clerks. This is data that is already in the hands of, in addition to state government, innumerable political and commercial organizations who have already digested it, augmented it, and rendered from it a detailed profile of your life, opinions, and economic decisions. By any reasonable analysis, there is absolutely nothing to be afraid of with regard to data that is not just public but highly ubiquitous.

The problem, as we have attempted to be clear about from the beginning, is the lack of any criticism from Williams of the commission’s request or its rational basis for existence. This is important because Williams’ office commendably stood up to Trump’s campaign-trail warnings of impending fraud in last year’s elections, explaining over and over that there was absolutely no evidence in Colorado’s electoral history to justify Trump’s wild claims. Understand that this wasn’t just some altruistic move on Williams’ part; there was significant concern among Republican campaign operatives at this time that Trump’s vote fraud clamoring could suppress GOP turnout in the election. But it was still the right thing to do–and Williams’ failure to stand up to Kobach’s commission now that Trump is President, as so many other Secretaries of State in both parties did, invites criticism that Williams’ principles didn’t survive the election.

With all of this in mind, this week we cited a Colorado Independent story that asked county clerks about a provision in state law that allows voters to make their file data confidential. Although this provision is specifically intended to help crime victims, police officers, and others who have a reasonable fear of physical violence or harassment to make their address somewhat more difficult to find in public records, the clerks told the Independent that they don’t verify the circumstances that applicants attest to.

Literally within minutes of publishing that blog post, we began hearing from friends who work on campaigns, nonprofit advocacy groups, and others who use the voter file as a central component of their outreach planning. And they were, we’ll let your imagination paint the picture, very unhappy that presumably left-of-center voters were being encouraged to take themselves out of the loop in terms of voter outreach. We updated the story later in the day to reflect their well-founded concern. But it didn’t matter, that evening most TV news stations ran stories about how to make your voter data confidential because Williams is giving it to Trump, and the proverbial game of telephone took it from there.

Bottom line: although Williams comes in for plenty of criticism for validating a commission denounced from both sides of the aisle as a “witch hunt,” making your voter data confidential without a good reason does more harm than good any way you look at it–in addition to being potentially perjurious. And obviously, obviously, voluntarily un-registering to vote, simply because Williams is giving over information everybody already has, is asinine in the extreme. Please tell everyone you know to not do either one, even if they look at you like you’re stupid. You never know when they’ll get the chain email or see the Facebook fake news.

Self-suppressing your vote is not now and will never be the answer to vote suppression. If we were at any point unclear about this fundamental principle, we apologize.

6 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. buford2 says:

    I was going to ask him if the Russian Embassy or the Storm Front are legitimate recipients? Public or not, that Office is suppose to protect our information, and if there is a legitimate reason, from a legitimate group, ok then…but I don't think this guy is anything other than a partisan hack…

  2. Diogenesdemar says:

    And you know that people who cancel their registration today won't reregister again to vote at some later date how???

    Over reaction is apparently contagious?

    I'm a "confidential" voter. That was an option 30 years ago when I registered, without any need to show cause.  I chose that option to avoid all the stupid candidate and fund raising mailings and phone calls, btw.  That was well before all of the other privacy concerns for personally identifying information that folks have today  

    I can understand why the parties don't want potential voters to have control of their privacy, but honest to god, that's what you should be hysterically advocating for (a return to the confidential status option without any reason to show cause), instead of hyperventilating over those folks who want to keep their personal life personal (for whatever personal reasons they have).

    We allow people to own and carry arsenals without any kind of registration, but require someone who wants to vote to place themselves on a publicly available registry and then gladly hand it over to any doofus with an agenda?  WTF?

  3. DavieDavie says:

    Two more examples of "It's only Republicans that commit voter fraud":

    An Iowa woman pleaded guilty to election misconduct this week after being accused of illegally voting twice for Donald Trump last year, according to The Associated Press.

    The woman, 56-year-old Terri Lynn Rote, reportedly cast a ballot during early voting in Polk County and attempted to cast a second one at a satellite voting location, where she was arrested. Rote told police she voted twice because she believed Trump’s claims that the 2016 election would be rigged and thought her first ballot would be changed to a vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton, according to CBS News.

    In North Carolina, by contrast, a prosecutor declined to even bring charges against a woman who admitted she voted for Trump on behalf of her deceased mother in 2016. (Where IOKIYAR apparently — Ed.)

     

  4. Pseudonymous says:

    coloradovoters.info : part of a project by some guy to put voter files online.  Been around for a while.  People don't need a "reason" to ask for this data, it, like records of your property taxes, the assessment of value on your home, the deeds that show information about that refi you just got (like how much your loan is) are all public records.  There are many things that we think of as "private" or "personal" that get exposed to publication or private data mining because they are government records, which themselves are subject to open records requests.

    Folks are getting information about you all the time from government data.  It can feel unpleasant, but it's not nefarious — even if what they want to use it for may be, as in this case.

    • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

      It's also possible to take one's name off of that private site. Just look up your own record, scroll to the bottom, and take it off.

      My voter info is now confidential, although this won't help me avoid all the fundraising emails from lists I'm already on.

      But I would never un-register. When Gessler was Sec State, he purged my voter record twice. How many others never got their ballots, never knew why?

      In reply to some of the Facebook posts below, I will say that I have no respect for anarchists who feel that they have a right to disrupt peaceful protests, display contempt for voting and elections, and generally strut around feeling superior. Real activists use every means at their disposal, including voting, to achieve their political ends.

      I’m convinced that at least half of you guys are paid provocateurs, anyway. I’ve seen you in action, and it isn’t pretty.

      Y'all want to blow shit up, study the stupid fireworks videos. You might find them very instructive.  But don't blow up the right to vote for others by encouraging folks to un-register.

       

  5. StrongColorado says:

    The problem isn't that Kobach and Co. will get too much information, it's that they'll get too little (not to mention security issues with centralized info).

    This is how Koback rolls – he'll compare what he gets with immigration databases and others and will come up with millions of false matches with names that are exactly alike or similar. Without more information (birth dates and the personal info no one wants him to have), he'll claim millions voted illegally. Kobach wants this outcome.

    And Trump will call for massive changes to elections. It's a pre-ordained outcome. 

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