About 270 people have withdrawn their voter registration with the Boulder County Clerk and Recorder’s Office during the past week, and an official with the office says the withdrawals stem from President Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission that recently began requesting voter information.
“We typically only receive a handful each week,” said Boulder County spokeswoman Mircalla Wozniak. “On Wednesday and Thursday, there was a big uptick, but it has since died down.”
Trump in May signed an executive order launching the Commission on Election Integrity with a focus on voter fraud, voter suppression and other “vulnerabilities.” The order came after Trump alleged — without evidence — that 3 million to 5 million people voted illegally in his 2016 election victory against Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Wozniak said the county has not kept track of the political party affiliations of people withdrawing their voter registration, and she added that many residents are learning for the first time that their voter information is a matter of public record.
In a letter last week to all 50 states, commission Vice Chairman Kris Kobach asked for all the “publicly available voter data” in each state, including each registered voter’s name, address, partial Social Security number (which isn’t public information in Colorado), party affiliation and a record of which elections they participated in since 2006.
The commission also asked questions about voter fraud, elections administration and cybersecurity — a topic of increasing concern after U.S. intelligence agencies said they found evidence of Russian hackers attempting to infiltrate election systems across the country in 2016.
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams is refusing part of the request and will only provide information that is already public under state law.
Boulder County Clerk and Recorder Hillary Hall was not available for comment on Friday, but she wrote in a guest column submitted to the newspaper that she has received calls and emails from concerned voters since the commission began requesting voter information.
Hall wrote that she agrees the request is “unsettling” and she is opposed to the commission, its stated objectives and the process used to conduct its work.
“There is absolutely no evidence of widespread voter fraud in our country,” she said. “I am concerned that the ‘findings’ will further erode confidence in our electoral process and people will stop participating or not even register in the first place.”
Nederland resident Betty Bass said that she withdrew her voter registration on Thursday, in part because she fears the release of information will put her at risk for identity theft, but she also want to educate herself more on what information is publicly available.
She also doesn’t believe that the commission is putting the information to good use.
“It just doesn’t seem like what they are doing is going to be well used to stop any voter fraud,” Bass said. “I don’t understand how it’s going to help the general good.”
Bass said she is considering having her voter information made confidential, and Wozniak said that about 70 people have come into the clerk’s office to sign affidavits to make their voter information not publicly available during the past week, which is a high number.
She added that having one’s voter information made confidential is intended for people such as judges, police officers and domestic violence victims. It makes changing information such as addresses difficult, because all business with the clerk’s office has to be done in person.
“There is a process if you feel you qualify to be a confidential voter,” Wozniak said. “But it is meant for if you feel that having information public could be used to harm you or your family.”
Hall wrote that although she is opposed to the work of the commission, it’s important that voter information remain public because without it, there would be no way for outside individuals or organizations to verify the election process.
“It would simply have to be a ‘trust us’ scenario with your state or local elected official maintaining the voter rolls with no external oversight,” she wrote. “Having the information public requires a check and balance on the process.”
The Denver Post contributed to this report.
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