KGNU is partnering with the League of Women Voters of Boulder County on a monthly commentary series called Making Democracy Work for All! which focuses on educating listeners on the workings of state and local government and letting them know how they can get involved at different stages of the political process. This month Jeanine Pow, shares some thoughts on recent federal efforts to gather voter information, and the implication for our democracy.
In a May 11, 2017 Executive Order, the Election Fraud Commission was formed on the heels of President Trump’s repeated unsupported claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2016 election.
Vice President Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach were appointed co-chairs of the Commission.
Chris Carson, President of the League of Women Voters notes that “Secretary Kobach has a history of suppressing voters and removing thousands of eligible voters from the rolls. Mr. Kobach has been brought to court — and lost — several times for suppressing the constitutional rights of citizens to vote in his home state of Kansas. He has also been sanctioned for ‘deceptive conduct’ and was fined by a federal magistrate judge for misleading the court.”(7/6/17)
On June 28, 2017, Secretary Kobach sent a letter to all 50 Secretaries of State asking that they supply the Commission with the “publicly available voter roll data.” The Secretaries of State were also invited to supply their views and recommendations on several enumerated election matters, including information on evidence of voter fraud or registration fraud since the November, 2000 federal election.
Pursuant to Colorado Statute, voter rolls and certain voter registration information is publicly available to anyone upon application and payment of a fee. If this information were not public, independent verification of the election processes would be impossible.
The information publicly available under Colorado law is limited to: the voter’s full name, address, phone number if listed, gender, year of birth, party affiliation, date of affiliation and, historically, those elections in which the voter has voted.
What is not publicly available is how the person voted in any election or personally identifiable information such as the voter’s complete date of birth, driver license number, social security number or email address.
On July 14, 2017, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams sent a lengthy reply addressing each of the questions raised in the Commission’s inquiry. Secretary Williams noted that “Elections are working well in Colorado.”
Examining the facts detailed in that letter, it is clear that President Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud are simply unsupported by the evidence. For example, Secretary Williams reported that since the November 2000 election there had been a grand total of 18 convictions in Colorado for election related crimes. That’s 18 convictions over the span of 16 statewide elections in which literally millions of votes have been cast.
On August 1, 2017, Secretary Williams supplied the Commission with the publicly available voter registration information permitted under Colorado law. (A complete copy of the Commission’s original inquiry and Secretary William’s July 14th letter are available on the Colorado Secretary of State’s website).
The Denver Post reports that approximately 5,300 Coloradans have withdrawn their voter registration since the Commission requested voter information from the Secretaries of State. Some theorize that these must be people who were illegally registered. Others, including the League of Women Voters, believe that these are legally registered voters who withdrew due to fear of misuse of their personal information or fear of an administration with an agenda of voter suppression.
League president Chris Carson issued the following statement concerning the Commission:
“The members of this Commission have a history of voter suppression efforts. Despite their claims of having no agenda, they have entered into this voter “study” with preconceived results. This fishing expedition for voter information is intended to lead to more voter suppression – not [for] improving our election process.”
The League of Women Voters recommends that Coloradans stand firm, stay enrolled and encourage others to register to vote at www.GoVoteColorado.com. Don’t let anyone stop you from exercising your Constitutional right to vote!