State voter data re­sub­mit­ted to fed­eral panel

First batch sent for fraud probe deleted amid se­cu­rity con­cerns

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - BRIAN FANNEY

For the sec­ond time, Arkansas has pro­vided voter data to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s voter-fraud com­mis­sion.

The state’s first re­sponse, sent about a month ago, was deleted over se­cu­rity con­cerns.

In­stead of up­load­ing the in­for­ma­tion to a file ex­change run by the Depart­ment of De­fense, as was done for the first re­quest, states are now be­ing asked to send the in­for­ma­tion to a White House com­puter sys­tem.

Ac­cord­ing to a let­ter and emails ob­tained from the Arkansas sec­re­tary of state’s of­fice, the re­quest was made Wed­nes­day and the files were up­loaded Thurs­day.

In a let­ter to Sec­re­tary of State Mark Martin, Kris Kobach, vice chair­man of the Pres­i­den­tial Ad­vi­sory Com­mis­sion on Elec­tion In­tegrity, em­pha­sized pri­vacy.

“I want to as­sure you that the Com­mis­sion will not pub­licly re­lease any per­son­ally iden­ti­fi­able in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing any in­di­vid­ual voter or any group of vot­ers from the voter reg­is­tra­tion records you sub­mit,” he wrote. “In­di­vid­u­als’ voter reg­is­tra­tion records will be kept con­fi­den­tial and se­cure through­out the du­ra­tion of the Com­mis­sion’s ex­is­tence.”

In a pre­vi­ous let­ter, dated June 28, Kobach wrote: “Please be aware that any doc­u­ments that are sub­mit­ted to the full Com­mis­sion will also be made avail­able to the pub­lic.”

The re­ver­sal came as some vot­ers said they were con­cerned about their pri­vacy and the com­mis­sion’s in­tent.

Rep. Vi­vian Flow­ers, D-Pine Bluff, who is chair­man of the Leg­isla­tive Black Cau­cus, said the cau­cus met with Chief Deputy Sec­re­tary of State Kelly Boyd about voter data last week.

“I would have liked to have seen the sec­re­tary of state get more in­for­ma­tion about how they plan to use the voter in­for­ma­tion of our cit­i­zens be­fore shar­ing it, given the con­tro­ver­sies and the is­sues and the con­cerns,” she said in an in­ter­view.

Flow­ers said that while the in­for­ma­tion is pub­lic, not know­ing how the records will be used, cou­pled with White House con­tro­ver­sies in­volv­ing Rus­sian elec­tion med­dling, cause her con­cern.

“I’m con­cerned as an in­di­vid­ual voter and I think as a cau­cus we’re con­cerned about what that means for

our con­stituents,” she said.

Arkansas was the first state to sub­mit in­for­ma­tion in re­sponse to the June 28 let­ter from the fed­eral com­mis­sion.

Chris Pow­ell, a spokesman for Martin, said a hot­line had been set up at (501) 435-3294 be­cause “we know that many peo­ple have strong opin­ions on this is­sue that they want to ex­press.”

“We re­ceived many calls in re­cent weeks, but our staff still need to be able to per­form their day-to-day func­tions, so we wanted to have a cen­tral­ized way to be able to do that and still ac­com­mo­date con­cerned cit­i­zens,” he said.

Pow­ell noted a sim­i­lar hot­line had been set up in the past in re­sponse to pro­pos­als to set up more mon­u­ments on Capi­tol grounds.

The batch of records up­loaded Thurs­day was first re­ported by the Arkansas Times.

A pre­vi­ous upload was deleted by fed­eral of­fi­cials be­cause the the Safe Ac­cess File Ex­change site to which it was up­loaded was at the heart of a law­suit filed by the Wash­ing­ton, D.C.-based Elec­tronic Pri­vacy In­for­ma­tion Cen­ter.

The Elec­tronic Pri­vacy In­for­ma­tion Cen­ter con­tended 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 cen­ter.

In the let­ter Wed­nes­day, Kobach noted that he had asked states to de­lay send­ing in­for­ma­tion be­cause a judge needed to rule on a mo­tion from the cen­ter that sought to pre­vent the com­mis­sion from re­ceiv­ing the records.

The court de­nied the mo­tion on Mon­day and, in light of that de­ci­sion, the com­mis­sion again reached out and asked for records.

In the ini­tial re­quest for in­for­ma­tion, Kobach 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 from Arkansas does not con­tain So­cial Se­cu­rity num­bers, felony con­vic­tions, mil­i­tary sta­tus or driver’s li­cense num­bers. Such in­for­ma­tion is not pub­licly avail­able in Arkansas.

How­ever, the other data — names, ad­dresses, dates of birth, voter his­tory since 2008, reg­is­tra­tion sta­tus, email ad­dresses and phone num­bers — have been shared. The data­base does not say for whom peo­ple voted — only whether they voted in an elec­tion, in­clud­ing in which pri­mary.

The same Arkansas voter in­for­ma­tion that was re­leased to the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has been pro­vided about 200 times since Jan­uary 2015 to var­i­ous en­ti­ties, Boyd told leg­is­la­tors and county clerks meet­ing ear­lier this month in Eureka Springs.

Chris Pow­ell, a spokesman for Sec­re­tary of State Mark Martin, said a hot­line had been set up at (501) 435-3294 be­cause “we know that many peo­ple have strong opin­ions on this is­sue that they want to ex­press.”

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