U.S. tells Arkansas to delete voter files

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - BRIAN FANNEY AND BILL BOW­DEN

Arkansas voter data pro­vided to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s voter-fraud com­mis­sion is headed for the trash days af­ter it was sub­mit­ted.

Ac­cord­ing to an email ex­change ob­tained Wed­nes­day un­der the state Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act, Andrew Kos­sack, as­so­ciate coun­sel for Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, asked of­fi­cials in Sec­re­tary of State Mark Martin’s of­fice to delete

from a fed­eral server the voter data it sub­mit­ted.

How­ever, state of­fi­cials could not ac­cess the server.

“We were un­able to ac­cess the SAFE site again in or­der to pull down the file, pur­suant to your re­quest,” wrote Pey­ton Mur­phy, as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of the state elec­tions divi­sion, in a Mon­day email. “We un­der­stand that the file has not yet been ac­cessed, but that it will ex­pire 14 days from the time of the up­load.”

Kos­sack replied that the fed­eral site would delete the file.

“I’ll be back in touch with next steps,” he con­tin­ued. “Again, thank you for your sub­mis­sion, and my apolo­gies for this in­con­ve­nience.”

Arkansas sub­mit­ted its data on July 5. It was the first state to sub­mit data to the Pres­i­den­tial Ad­vi­sory Com­mis­sion on Elec­tion In­tegrity.

The SAFE site — also known as the Safe Ac­cess File Ex­change — is at the heart of a law­suit filed by the Washington, D.C.-based Elec­tronic Pri­vacy In­for­ma­tion Cen­ter. The file ex­change is run within the Depart­ment of De­fense.

Kos­sack re­ferred to the law­suit in his email.

The Elec­tronic Pri­vacy In­for­ma­tion Cen­ter con­tends that the com­mis­sion failed to con­duct a pri­vacy in­for­ma­tion as­sess­ment — re­quired un­der the E-Gov­ern­ment Act of 2002 — be­fore col­lect­ing the data us­ing the Depart­ment of De­fense sys­tem.

“The ‘SAFE’ URL, rec­om­mend by the Com­mis­sion for the sub­mis­sion of voter data, leads elec­tion of­fi­cials to a non-se­cure site,” ac­cord­ing to the Elec­tronic Pri­vacy In­for­ma­tion Cen­ter.

“Re­gard­ing this web­site, Google Chrome states: ‘Your con­nec­tion is not pri­vate. At­tack­ers may be try­ing to steal your in­for­ma­tion from [the site pro­posed by the Com­mis­sion] (for ex­am­ple, pass­words, mes­sages, or credit cards).’”

In the ini­tial re­quest for in­for­ma­tion, dated June 28, Kris Kobach, vice chair­man of the Pres­i­den­tial Ad­vi­sory Com­mis­sion

on Elec­tion In­tegrity, noted that the com­mis­sion wanted Arkansas data — “if pub­licly avail­able un­der the laws of your state” — in­clud­ing names, ad­dresses, dates of birth, po­lit­i­cal party af­fil­i­a­tions, the last four dig­its of So­cial Se­cu­rity num­bers “if avail­able,” voter his­tory, voter sta­tus, felony con­vic­tions, in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing voter reg­is­tra­tion in an­other state, mil­i­tary sta­tus and over­seas cit­i­zen in­for­ma­tion.

The in­for­ma­tion sub­mit­ted to the file ex­change from Arkansas did not con­tain So­cial Se­cu­rity num­bers, felony con­vic­tions, mil­i­tary sta­tus and driver’s li­cense num­bers. Such in­for­ma­tion is not pub­licly avail­able in Arkansas.

How­ever, names, ad­dresses, dates of birth, po­lit­i­cal party af­fil­i­a­tions, voter his­tory since 2008, reg­is­tra­tion sta­tus, email ad­dresses and phone num­bers — were shared. The database does not say for whom some­one voted — only whether they voted.

The same Arkansas voter in­for­ma­tion that was re­leased to the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has been pro­vided about 200

times since Jan­uary 2015 to var­i­ous en­ti­ties, Kelly Boyd, chief deputy sec­re­tary of state, told leg­is­la­tors and county clerks meet­ing Wed­nes­day in Eureka Springs.

Those en­ti­ties in­clude states, or­ga­ni­za­tions, po­lit­i­cal par­ties and Arkansas leg­is­la­tors, he told a crowd of about 100 at the Basin Park Ho­tel.

“We sub­mit in­for­ma­tion ev­ery year to the state cross­check pro­gram, and we do that at no charge,” Boyd said. “And we did that at no charge for this pro­gram.”

“To be very clear on this, there was no sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion re­leased, no So­cial Se­cu­rity num­bers, no par­tials, no mil­i­tary data, no felon data, no data that you can’t get out of the phone book.”

Boyd said the data would re­veal some vot­ing in­for­ma­tion.

“They’re go­ing to know whether you voted R or D or O [op­tional] or N for non­ju­di­cial in the pri­maries,” said Boyd. “It would tell whether you voted E early, A ab­sen­tee or P at the polls, back to 2008. …

“I know there’s been a lot of angst about that, and I’m

sorry. I wish there hadn’t been. This in­for­ma­tion is openly avail­able. There are ways to make it not openly avail­able. I’ll work with you if you want to do that.”

Gov. Asa Hutchin­son told a group of high school stu­dents Mon­day that the state should not have pro­vided any data to the Trump com­mis­sion.

“I am not a fan of pro­vid­ing any data to the com­mis­sion in Washington,” Hutchin­son said in re­sponse to a stu­dent’s ques­tion.

“Even though it is pub­licly avail­able in­for­ma­tion and any­one can get it — all you have to do is file a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion [Act] re­quest to get the in­for­ma­tion — I just don’t want to fa­cil­i­tate the pro­vid­ing of that in­for­ma­tion to a fed­eral database. I don’t think that’s help­ful for us.”

The gover­nor spoke as Kos­sack and Arkansas sec­re­tary of state staff mem­bers were trad­ing emails about delet­ing the Arkansas in­for­ma­tion.

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