Original article by Gabe Acosta
Hello Arizona Public Square Subscribers,
In the news recently there has been a lot of talk about the Pence-Kobach commission into voter fraud. We wanted to break down what the recent requests for information mean, and let people know what, if any, of their personal information might be turned over to the commission.
In the aftermath of the 2016 election, and with unproven allegations of voter fraud, President Trump created The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity headed by VP Mike Pence and spearheaded by Oklahoma Sec. of State Kobach. Kobach is known for his hard headed approach to voter integrity, with his opponents often accusing him of voter suppression. Recently, the commission sent a request to every state for information from their voter rolls, including the names, addresses, and Social Security Numbers for every registered voter in each state. The intent of this is to gather information for a publicly available study on the subject.
However, the request for information ran into trouble from various Sec. of States who objected to the order. Arizona in particular has several laws regarding the release of voter information. Some of the information requested is not available to any outside group, and is held under strict privacy laws. For instance, the Arizona Constitution does not allow the state to release SSN’s, Driver’s License or ID numbers, or mother’s maiden name. As it turns out, a lot of other states have this same law. Kris Kobach, the same man on the commission, had to deny his own request for this information because of Oklahoma law!.
Many states have laws that restrict the public accessibility of this information. Because the Pence-Kobach commission intends to release a publically available study on their efforts, this restricts what information they can actually request. This aspect seems to be a contributing reason why upwards of 25 states have restricted this information. It also is noted that the states who have refused to pass along this information include a wide ideological variety including: Kentucky, Ohio, California, and Mississippi to give you an idea.
Some of the information requested is publically available to any government or private entity, including things such as party affiliation, names, and addresses. This part of the request has also run into resistance. Every County Recorder, the officials who run elections and voter registration for each county, also have a fair bit of power when it comes to releasing some of the publically available information. Adrian Fontes, the Maricopa County Recorder, has stated that he will not release any information unless he had assurance from the panel that the information would be kept private.
So in Arizona, it looks like our voter registration information will continue to be private. Any piece of information that is not publically available is, for the time being, withheld by the County Recorders and the Secretary of State.
All of these problems are hindering President Trump’s commission into voter fraud. However, opponents of the commission say this is a good thing. Sec. Kobach is known for using his office to delegitimize the votes of lawful citizens, and suppressing the vote of those he does not agree with. In addition, the various studies on the issue do not support Kobach’s view that there are millions of illegal voters. Many people are naming this commission for what it is, an attempt to scare voters from registering to vote.
If you have a strong feeling on this issue and are concerned about the integrity of our electoral process, we highly suggest calling your elected representatives and letting them know what you think on these issues.