Lawmakers draw line with Trump voter request

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

State senator, representatives say only public info should be released

President Donald Trump has formed a commission to investigate voter fraud in the United States, and local lawmakers believe information the commission is asking for should be turned over, so long as it is legal for the state to do so.

In a June 28 letter from the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, states were asked to provide publicly available voter roll data. However, other more specific details were also requested, including parts of Social Security numbers, dates of birth, addresses and information regarding felony convictions or military status.

More than 20 states, with leaders spanning party lines, have come out against the request. But in Missouri, Republican Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft has said his office "is happy to offer our support in the collective effort to enhance the American people's confidence in the integrity of the system."

Local lawmakers say there is nothing wrong with that, as long as Ashcroft does not overstep his bounds.

"It's fine provided the Secretary of State does not give any information not available to everyone in the public under state law," said State Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, R-Shell Knob. "Nothing above that should be given. The electoral process is governed by the states, and the federal government should not meddle in how states run their elections. If they are asking for something that would compromise the privacy or security of an individual, we shouldn't do it."

State Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, holds about the same opinion.

"I think that's a reasonable approach, although I don't see any evidence of voter fraud or personal information getting out to the wrong individuals," he said. "I think this whole thing might be a bit overblown. The information we would be giving is public knowledge anyway, and we certainly don't want to be giving out social security numbers or other private information."

Fitzpatrick said similar issues with personal information have arisen in the past, such as when the Social Security Administration requested personal information of concealed carry permit holders in the state.

"[Former Gov. Jay] Nixon complied, and we had a serious problem with that," Fitzpatrick said. "That led us to move those permits completely to the sheriff's offices and out of state control."

"I think the state government understands the privacy concerns, and I have no fears of something like [the concealed carry information being released happening again," Sater said. "And, as far as voting Republican or Democrat, I think at least half of the voters in the state, or the vast majority, are independents."

"Voter registration documents are public information, so you can get those already," Fitzpatrick said. anything beyond that and getting into personal information, we should draw a line."

Trump's commission comes seven months after he defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton, and he has alleged 3-5 million people voted illegally, costing him the popular vote.

The data requested will help the commission "fully analyze vulnerabilities and issues related to voter registration and voting," vice chairman and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach wrote in the letter.

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