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Trump's voter data gathering effort generates public backlash

Posted July 14

— President Donald Trump's voter integrity commission invited public comment on its push to collect information on voters from all 50 states, and the response was a stream of well-articulated concern and thoughtful analysis on the state of U.S. election practices.

Just kidding. There was a bunch of angry cursing. A lot of people told Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the commission's vice chairman, to go ... love himself, let's say.

Many noted Kobach's past efforts to purge voting rolls and suggested that he burn in hell. One person called Kobach a "FRAUD Anti-American UnPatriotic Dirty Commie Rat!"

This commission sent letters to all 50 states last month seeking a trove of data from voting rolls, including birth dates, the last four digits of people's Social Security numbers and election participation information going back to 2006. Anger followed, with people accusing the commission of attempting to build a national database that could be used for targeted voter suppression and which might also enable identity theft since the commission promised to make everything public.

Largely lost in the response was that the commission requested this data from state officials only if it is "publicly available under the laws of your state." Much of the requested data is not. North Carolina agreed to provide only public data, which is already available to anyone who requests it, but the whole collection effort was put on hold by ensuing legal actions.

The comments released this week by the White House show a lot of anger, though a few wrote in with support and some took the opportunity to back nonpartisan redistricting, open primaries and abolishment of the electoral college.

At least one person suggested more federal funding for local election boards. One person offered to help, just let her know.

Here are excerpts from some of the responses:

  • Hi, I voted in all 50 states. Just wanted you to know.
  • you are all about voter suppression to rig elections. you are evil. pray there is no hell.
  • Dear Glorious Overlords, Per your terrifying letter that makes it sound like you are creating super Big Brother, I have some concerns that I would like to share with you ...
  • I hope and pray that you fail.
  • The person reading this email should be ashamed to be supporting this effort.
  • I pay the government a boat load of taxes, so you work for me. I think you are doing a terrible job. Explain yourself.
  • Dear Vice President Pence, This is a necessary investigation since a lot of ineligible people voted in the last Presidential election. If there is anything I can do, please let me know.
  • It is obvious that your commission will be using this information, especially voting history, to target people who are likely to vote Democratic, and use various, well-known techniques to suppress as many of their votes as possible. I am a Teddy Roosevelt Republican. He would never condone such un-American behavior.
  • P.S. I removed my name from voter rolls. And I'm a Republican!

Some have complained online that the White House released these emails publicly without redacting people's contact information, including home addresses. Relatively few of the comments include email addresses, phone numbers or physical addresses. That information seems to be included only if the commenter included it in the body of their comment, such as in an email signature line.

In its request for comments, the commission specifically noted that it "may post such written comments publicly on our website, including names and contact information that are submitted."

2 Comments

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  • John Archer Jul 17, 1:36 p.m.
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    The request was for significantly more information than is available publically, including DL# and last four of you SS among other things. There is no reason for the Federal government to request and keep this information. Voter registration and validation is a State's issue. As for purging voters, Kobach is most famous for his Crosscheck system, which purges voter registrations of people with similar sounding names, regardless of voting frequency, and regardless of whether it is a valid duplication or not. Purge first, ask questions later. This is a problem when someone shows up to their polling place to vote and gets turned away because they are no longer registered and were not notified in time to re-register. It could easily happen to you next time.

  • William Sherman Jul 17, 10:21 a.m.
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    I'm not trying to hide anything--so I have no problem with this. The govt. is not asking for information that is not already available so whats all the noise about?? As for purging voter rolls--thats supposed to be done legally after a certain period of time when a voter does not vote in any election--it used to be after 8 years of not voting.