UPDATE: Denver7’s Blair Miller reports from a press conference today in which Secretary of State Wayne Williams attempted without success to tamp down the controversy:
Uproar about the commission’s request has grown over the weekend and July 4 holiday, as handfuls of secretaries of state—including some Republicans—have publicly stood up to the request, saying it is nothing more than an effort by the administration to suppress voters…
When reporters at the news conference asked about the motives behind the commission, which was established after the president’s claims there were millions of illegal votes cast last year, Williams again stuck to the message that he was following state law and hopeful the commission was true in its statements that the motives behind the commission is to address challenges involving elections.
“Are there some on the commission who have a particular thing they are more concerned about than others? I suspect that’s probably true,” Williams said. “But again, Colorado’s response is based on the requirements of Colorado law and not the assessment of the purity of motives of anybody.”
And he stuck to his message that he’s repeated several times since then-candidate Trump claimed there was widespread voter fraud: “I will tell you all what I have said repeatedly: I have not seen the evidence in Colorado of vote fraud on the scale that has been reference in some reports, tweets, or other things.”
Williams’ response to the bigger question of whether this commission is engaging in a worthwhile investigation or a groundless witch hunt isn’t enough to satisfy those who are concerned he is legitimizing something he went out of his way to debunk last year. We’ve never disputed that this is public information, the availability of which is not itself controversial–it’s about validating the contention that voter fraud is a problem in American elections, a claim for which there is no evidence.
At the same time, we’re hearing a lot of pushback from campaign experts about encouraging voters to make their public data in the voter file confidential as detailed below. The problem with doing that is it removes voters, in this case disproportionately liberal and Democratic voters, from campaign communications of all kinds: which could affect both those voters’ knowledge of election issues and efforts to turn them out to vote. Because this data is readily available to anyone from many sources other than the Colorado Secretary of State, the small satisfaction of “denying” it to the Kobach commission is outweighed by the harm from taking one’s self out of the loop. As for the legality of using the program that allows for that just to spite Trump, be advised:
Williams also discussed the state’s confidential voter program, called the Address Confidentiality Program, which allows certain people—mainly domestic violence victims or stalking—to sign a document saying their information shouldn’t be released because doing so would be a risk to their safety. Lying on the document would make a person subject to perjury charges. Some law enforcement officers may be covered under certain circumstances, especially those working undercover.
“Colorado’s confidential voter program is based through the law, not a fiat from the secretary of state or something else,” Williams said. “It’s based on attestation from the individual, under oath, that they meet one of the criteria.”
Wouldn’t it be better if we could just not humor Donald Trump’s fantasies to begin with? Original post follows.
Secretary of State Wayne Williams (R).
An application, that is, as the Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins follows up on last week’s controversy regarding GOP Secretary of State Wayne Williams’ decision to cooperate with the Trump administration’s widely-criticized commission “investigating” the issue of vote fraud in American elections:
Williams has not pulled Colorado’s voter files yet as of July 3, according to his office. He has a July 14 deadline.
If you’re a voter in Colorado, you should know what’s already publicly available. It’s your address, the year of your birth, which party you belong to or whether you’re unaffiliated, and when and where you voted in past elections and what those elections were. (Obviously who you voted for is secret.) That’s what Williams will turn over to Trump’s voter fraud task force, which is vice-chaired by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
In Colorado, you can can keep this information confidential if you’re worried about your safety. And if you do it before Colorado pulls the voter file, Trump’s federal commission won’t get your info, according to the secretary of state’s office.
The process, laid out in state law, is set up so voters who have safety concerns about their information being public can have their personal information suppressed. It’s called a request of confidentiality, and you can make one in person with your county clerk by filling out a form and paying a nominal fee.
Again, we want to be clear that the data Williams intends to turn over to the Kobach commission is already public and not difficult to obtain by any interested party. Some states have somewhat tighter restrictions on the public release of voter data, but nothing being turned over to this commission poses any greater identity theft or other personal risk to individual voters than the vast trove of information already publicly known and traded about you. Like most states, Williams is not handing over things like whole birth dates or the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers, which could reasonably be considered personal security risks.
So what’s the problem, you ask? Simple: it’s the fact that Secretary of State Wayne Williams is cooperating with this commission at all. Williams, who last year commendably helped debunk Donald Trump’s unfounded claims of impending election fraud to deny him the presidency, should be at the front of the long line of secretaries of state from both parties who have called this whole effort out as a waste of time and resources. Instead, his public statements about this commission have been completely devoid of criticism, in marked contrast to most of his peers. Numerous “investigations” laden with our previous secretary of state’s blatant confirmation bias in Colorado have proven that this is a problem that exists only in the heads of Republican politicians who want to shore up their electoral margins.
So yes, folks, if you don’t want to be a part of it, you can go to your county clerk and fill out a form to make your voter history confidential! It’s a provision meant to protect the safety of public figures and crime victims, but also anybody else worried about harassment or their safety if this data isn’t kept confidential–and that seems to be up to you to determine. We’re not advocating people take this step necessarily, but Williams’ actions have made it timely to note for the record.
As an added bonus, you’ll apparently get a lot less political mail during election season!
Don’t tell the clerk that’s why you’re doing it.