A national elections watchdog group has told Secretary of State Dianna Duran that her referral of 64,000 voter registrations to the state Department of Public Safety for investigation might undermine confidence in the system and violate state law.
In a letter to Duran dated Thursday, Ben Hovland, senior counsel for the Washington, D.C.-based Fair Elections Legal Network, wrote, “We fear that your attempt to ensure ‘accuracy and integrity’ in the system has had the opposite effect as unsubstantiated claims of large numbers of irregularities on voter registration records do not lead to greater accuracy of records and may, indeed, serve to undermine confidence in the system.”
Hovland asked for additional details as to the nature of this investigation, including the methodology used to select and examine the 64,000 registration records, when the investigation might be finished, and information about the steps taken to protect the private data in the registration records being investigated.
Ken Ortiz, chief of staff for the secretary of state, said Thursday that Duran is out of the office until next week and couldn’t respond to the letter.
FELN’s website says its mission is “to remove barriers to registration and voting for traditionally underrepresented constituencies and improve overall election administration through administrative, legal and legislative reform.”
Though it is a nonpartisan organization, FELN is opposed to laws that require voters to show photo identification at the polls, which most contemporary Republicans — including Duran — strongly support.
The first public mention of the SOS cross-checking voter files with MVD records was at a legislative hearing in March on a bill to require photo identification for voting. Duran testified that an initial check showed at least 37 noncitizens have voted here.
In June, Duran said the state voter files had been cross-checked with motor vehicle records. The 64,000 registrations given to the DPS were “questionable” cases in which information such as names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth on the voter list didn’t match with information on Motor Vehicle Division files.