Voting is a right in a democracy and the secrecy of the ballot protects citizens from reprisal. President Donald Trump may not appreciate this core American principle, but we’re pleased that most state election officials do. At least 43 states, including Texas, have pushed back against all or parts of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity’s sweeping and unprecedented request to hand over names, addresses, dates of birth, political party and voting histories, criminal records, military status and the last four digits of Social Security numbers of voters dating back to 2006. Texas will turn over information already publicly available but rightly refuses to release full or partial Social Security numbers. We find it disturbing that Trump continues to deny Russian meddling in the 2016 elections, but remains preoccupied with using this commission to pursue his own unproven allegations that millions voted illegally, costing him the popular vote.
State election officials from red and blue states — and groups like the Brennan Center, which, so far, has found a total of 30 cases nationwide of possible noncitizen voting — all agree there’s no evidence to support Trump’s claim of massive fraud.
Conservatives and liberals alike should be appalled that a commission brought into existence by a presidential executive order wants such sensitive personal data on the thinnest of pretexts. Information collected and normally protected by states would end up in the hands of the federal government without assurances that it wouldn’t be used to purge voter rolls for political purposes or to pass federal legislation to make it harder for people to register and vote.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center has similar concerns. They filed legal action this week alleging that the commission failed to conduct a mandatory privacy impact assessment, rendering the request unlawful and unconstitutional.