As many as 3,400 Coloradans, along with voters in other states, have canceled their voter registration rather than have the information on their registration forms be shared with President Donald Trump’s election integrity commission.
At 0.09 percent, that is an extremely small fraction of the state’s 3.7 million registered voters, but it’s still a significant protest, and it’s growing. Since July 1, 49 La Plata County voters have registered their dissent by filing confidentiality requests with the county clerk.
The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity has requested names, addresses, birth dates and party affiliations of registered voters in each state, as well as felony convictions, military statuses, the last four digits of Social Security numbers and voting records dating back to 2006. Of that, only parts are matters of public record.
The federal government already has access to that portion of the data. Whether the states should pay the bill to package it nicely and deliver it is a separate question, although that would certainly make the commission’s work easier.
Some states – including some where voters favored Trump – have refused to comply with the request at all; others, like Colorado, have said they will submit only the portion of the information that is already available to the public. Colorado’s compliance is on hold until a federal court rules on a lawsuit seeking a temporary restraining order against the data release.
If you’ve followed the law, Trump supporters say, why worry about what your records will show? That argument apparently does not apply to the president’s tax returns, and one problem that worries many voters is the commission’s clearly partisan agenda.
The advisory commission is partially propelled by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who has trumpeted loud and occasionally false claims about the number of ballots cast illegally. A federal magistrate recently fined him $1,000 for presenting misleading arguments in a voting-related lawsuit.
Almost all state election officials say that the problem is small and plays no role in determining election results. On Friday, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams sent a letter to the commission indicating, by all relevant measures, Colorado elections work well and that the commission’s request is not an effective way to ferret out fraud.
Some irregularities have been found in the past and will likely present again, but most are inadvertent and cause no harm. In that sense, it will be emotionally satisfying for the president’s base, but the results do not justify the cost.
Meanwhile, some Americans will unregister until the deadline for the next election, re-register and vote, and then unregister again.
The real problem here is trust. Americans are not sure they can trust this administration, and the president is certain he can trust no one. That is a national crisis, and it is ironic that voting is its only solution.