Another View bug

If you are a registered voter anywhere in the United States of America, President Donald Trump wants to know your:

  • Name
  • Party affiliation
  • Address
  • Birth date
  • Voting history
  • Felony convictions
  • Military service
  • Last four digits of your Social Security number

State elections officials quickly said, “no” to part or all of that demand letter, citing state laws.

Election officials in 20 states and the District of Columbia told the Associated Press that they would not comply at all with the commission’s request. That includes: California, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia and Wyoming.

On Saturday, July 1, Trump tweeted:

“Numerous states are refusing to give information to the very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL. What are they trying to hide?”

It is the president who is hiding behind his unsubstantiated claim that up to 5 million people voted illegally in the November 2016 elections – in which Trump won the White House. Trump’s contention is that it would have been a bigger win for him if those "illegal" votes hadn’t been cast. His complaint is pure fiction.

But as president, Trump has power to pursue his imaginary fraud and to expend public money doing so. Trump appointed a commission to look into voter fraud – despite lack of evidence that fraud occurred and regardless of state and local elections officials from across the nation giving assurances that their laws and processes safeguarded the voting.

Even the office of Kris Kobach, the Republican Kansas secretary of state who is co-chair of Trump’s fraud commission, told the Associated Press that Kansas won’t comply fully with the commission’s information demand. Kansas law prohibits the state from releasing voter Social Security numbers. Kobach is running for governor of Kansas in 2018.

Nor will voter Social Security numbers be divulged by Montana, the state’s director of voter services said. Derek Oestreicher told reporter Holly Michels that Montana’s public voter file doesn’t include Social Security numbers or birth dates.

“Our office will not release any personal or confidential information,” Oestreicher said. Montana doesn’t have information on voter party affiliation because the state has open primaries, so no party registration is required.

The public information on voters includes: name, address, and whether the voter is “active” or “inactive.” This information is available to any member of the public – for a fee.

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We call on Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton to charge the Trump voter fraud commission the costs of providing any information and to only provide what Montana law clearly allows. Montana taxpayers shouldn’t have to finance this investigative charade.

Better yet, Stapleton should stand with Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Murray, who told the Casper Star-Tribune: “I’m going to decline to provide any Wyoming voter information. It’s not sitting well with me.

“Elections are the responsibility of states under the Constitution. I’m wondering if this request could lead to some federal overreach.”

Beyond the expense and distraction from real problems in America, the commission furthers efforts to keep certain Americans from voting. For example, Montana voters in 2018 will pass judgment on a legislative referendum that seeks to make the return of mailed ballots more difficult for voters and county elections officials.

The majority of Americans, in poll after poll, have said they disapprove of Trump’s performance in office. His tweets and spoken words are daily insults to our intelligence and to our fellow Americans. The voter fraud charade is worse than most. The president is attacking the fundamental right of Americans to vote and to have confidence in the fairness and integrity of our elections system.

We call on Democrats, Republicans, independents and every other party whose members love America to denounce the false allegations and this troubling attempt to build a federal database of U.S. voters’ personal information. This issue should unite Montana’s congressional delegation of Jon Tester, Steve Daines and Greg Gianforte.

This editorial originally appeared in the Billings Gazette. 

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