White House re­leases vot­ers’ email, per­sonal data

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - CHRISTO­PHER INGRAHAM

The White House on Thurs­day made pub­lic a trove of email mes­sages it re­ceived from vot­ers of­fer­ing com­ment on its Elec­tion In­tegrity Com­mis­sion. The com­mis­sion drew wide­spread crit­i­cism when it emerged into pub­lic view by ask­ing for pub­licly avail­able per­sonal in­for­ma­tion, in­clud­ing ad­dresses, par­tial so­cial se­cu­rity num­bers, and party af­fil­i­a­tion, on ev­ery voter in the coun­try.

Vot­ers di­rected that anger the White House and the voter com­mis­sion, of­ten us­ing pro­fan­ity-laced lan­guage in the mes­sages re­leased this week, 112 pages of them.

“You will open up the en­tire vot­ing pop­u­la­tion to a mas­sive amount of fraud if this data is in any way re­leased,” wrote one voter.

“Many peo­ple will get their iden­tity stolen, which will harm the econ­omy,” wrote an­other.

“I re­spect­fully re­quest, as an Amer­i­can-born cit­i­zen legally el­i­gi­ble to vote for two decades, that you leave my voter data and his­tory alone, do not pub­lish it, and do noth­ing with it,” said an­other.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion did not redact any of their per­sonal in­for­ma­tion from the mes­sages be­fore re­leas­ing them to the pub­lic. In some cases, the mes­sages con­tain not only names, but email ad­dresses, home ad­dresses, phone num­bers and places of em­ploy­ment of peo­ple wor­ried about such in­for­ma­tion be­ing made avail­able to the pub­lic.

The mes­sages were sent to the ad­dress that the ad­min­is­tra­tion asked sec­re­taries of state to send data files to.

“This re­quest is very con­cern­ing,” wrote one. “The fed­eral gov­ern­ment is at­tempt­ing to get the name, ad­dress, birth date, po­lit­i­cal party, and so­cial se­cu­rity num­ber of ev­ery voter in the coun­try.” That email, pub­lished by the White House, con­tained the

sender’s name and home ad­dress.

“Do not re­lease any of my voter data pe­riod,” wrote one voter, us­ing all caps. The White House pub­lished that voter’s name and email ad­dress.

“Beefed up the se­cu­rity on this email ad­dress yet?” asked an­other voter whose name and email ad­dress were also pub­lished by the White House.

“The re­quest for pri­vate voter in­for­ma­tion is of­fen­sive,” wrote one voter whose name, home ad­dress and email ad­dress were pub­lished by the White House.

“I re­moved my name from voter rolls. And I’m a Repub­li­can!” wrote one voter whose name was pub­lished by the White House.

Fed­eral agen­cies of­ten so­licit and re­lease pub­lic com­ments on pro­posed leg­is­la­tion. Reg­u­la­tions.gov, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s clear­ing house for pub­lic com­ments, in­cludes a de­tailed set of guide­lines ex­plain­ing how to sub­mit com­ments, what type of per­sonal in­for­ma­tion is col­lected, and how that in­for­ma­tion may be used.

“Some agen­cies may re­quire that you in­clude per­sonal in­for­ma­tion, such as your name and email ad­dress, on the com­ment form,” the web­site ex­plains. The Se­cu­ri­ties and Ex­change Com­mis­sion, for in­stance warns

com­menters to “sub­mit only in­for­ma­tion that you wish to make avail­able pub­licly.”

Sim­i­larly, the Fed­eral Trade Com­mis­sion tells com­menters that “pub­lished com­ments in­clude the com­menter’s last name and state/ coun­try as well as the en­tire text of the com­ment. Please do not in­clude any sen­si­tive or con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion.”

The White House does not ap­pear to have is­sued any such pub­lic guide­lines or warn­ings prior to re­leas­ing the mes­sages, all of which ap­pear to have been sent to the Elec­tion In­tegrity Com­mis­sions’ email ad­dress as listed in a let­ter sent to U.S. sec­re­taries of state.

A spokesman for Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence who pre­vi­ously re­sponded to in­quires about the voter com­mis­sion did not im­me­di­ately

re­turn a re­quest for com­ment.

While the let­ter in­vited sec­re­taries of state to send com­ments and voter data via that email ad­dress, the White House now says that “any mem­ber of the pub­lic wish­ing to sub­mit writ­ten com­ments for the Com­mis­sion’s con­sid­er­a­tion may do so via email” at that ad­dress, Elec­tionIn­tegri­tyStaffovp.eop. gov. It warns that “the Com­mis­sion may post such writ­ten com­ments pub­licly on our web­site, in­clud­ing names and con­tact in­for­ma­tion that are sub­mit­ted.”

The page that warn­ing is con­tained on was pub­lished Thurs­day. The mes­sages pub­lished by the White House were writ­ten be­tween June 29 and Tues­day.

AP/MICHEL EULER

French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron (right) and U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump talk Fri­day as they watch the tra­di­tional Bastille Day mil­i­tary pa­rade on the Champs El­y­sees, in Paris.

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