Trump voter com­mis­sion is scar­ing away Den­ver vot­ers

The Denver Post - - OPINION - By Am­ber F. McReynolds Am­ber F. McReynolds is the Di­rec­tor of Elec­tions for the City and City and County of Den­ver.

Ihave ad­min­is­tered elec­tions in the City and County of Den­ver for more than 12 years and our team has made it our mis­sion to im­prove the vot­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for all el­i­gi­ble ci­ti­zens by cre­at­ing in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions to bet­ter serve cus­tomers and im­prove op­er­a­tions. We come to work ev­ery day ex­cited about the re­spon­si­bil­ity and op­por­tu­nity to serve as elec­tion of­fi­cials. For us, it is about ad­min­is­ter­ing one of the most sacred and essen­tial rights we have as Amer­i­cans.

We have tire­lessly worked to make voter reg­is­tra­tion more ef­fi­cient and con­ve­nient to en­cour­age civic en­gage­ment.

I never ex­pected to come to work and see such a sud­den in­crease in voter reg­is­tra­tion with­drawals. I never ex­pected to see more with­drawals in a day than new reg­is­tra­tions.

And yet. The ef­fect of the re­quest to states for voter data from the Pres­i­den­tial Ad­vi­sory Com­mis­sion on Elec­tion In­tegrity is con­cern­ing be­cause it is caus­ing vot­ers to dis­en­gage. Par­ti­san pol­i­tics have no place in elec­tion administration and the mis­sion of the com­mis­sion seems un­clear.

The im­pact on vot­ers is real. The im­pact on civic en­gage­ment is real. The im­pact on elec­tion of­fices is real.

Colorado has the high­est reg­is­tra­tion rate as a per­cent­age of pop­u­la­tion, but if the re­cent trend con­tin­ues that could quickly change. Here is the break­down in Den­ver since July 3, iron­i­cally the day be­fore our na­tion cel­e­brated its in­de­pen­dence. (The per­cent­age in­crease com­pares the same types of voter trans­ac­tions over the same num­ber of days dur­ing the week of June 26.)

• A 2,150 per­cent in­crease in voter reg­is­tra­tion with­drawals.

• A 1,833 per­cent in­crease in walk-in trans­ac­tions with vot­ers.

• A 790 per­cent in­crease in emails from vot­ers.

• A 247 per­cent in­crease in phone calls from vot­ers.

Here is a sam­pling of voter com­ments:

“It seems like an as­sault on our per­sonal free­doms — of speech and pri­vacy first and fore­most.”

“I have con­cerns that my in­di­vid­u­ally-iden­ti­fi­able in­for­ma­tion would be mis­used for il­le­git­i­mate pur­poses. I sin­cerely hope that the Den­ver Elec­tions Di­vi­sion does not sup­port, or re­spond to, any such re­quests in­volv­ing pri­vate in­for­ma­tion in the fu­ture.”

“I am send­ing this email to state my ob­jec­tion to pro­vid­ing any pri­vate in­for­ma­tion to the com­mis­sion, should the Den­ver Elec­tions Di­vi­sion (or the Colorado Sec­re­tary of State) be pres­sured in the fu­ture to pro­vide such in­for­ma­tion.”

“Again, thank you for your ef­forts in pro­tect­ing our vot­ing in­tegrity. What we are also gravely con­cerned about is the fol­low-up let­ter com­ing from the De­part­ment of Jus­tice. Their de­mand seems very omi­nous. Will our con­fi­den­tial forms pro­tect us from their de­mands? It ap­pears that the DO J may have more clout against the states who want to pro­tect vot­ing rights.”

“I am of­fi­cially re­quest­ing that you DO NOT re­lease my name to the fed­eral govern­ment, in terms of my act of vot­ing, or my vot­ing record, or any in­for­ma­tion at all. Vot­ing should re­main a ci­ti­zen’s pri­vate duty, and there is no need to do this. “

“Due to the de­ci­sion to have my in­for­ma­tion given with­out my per­mis­sion, I would like to have the form sent to me that al­lows me to un­reg­is­ter as a voter. Please send ASAP.”

“I’m afraid to with­draw my voter reg­is­tra­tion be­cause some law or rule may change in the in­terim that won’t al­low me to reg­is­ter again.”

“I ap­pre­ci­ate that you are han­dling this mat­ter thought­fully and with the best in­ter­est of Colorado vot­ers in mind.”

Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent Pew Re­search Cen­ter study, the top three rights that Amer­i­cans view as essen­tial to their free­dom are the free­dom of speech, the right to vote, and the right to pri­vacy. It is un­der­stand­able that Amer­i­cans are con­cerned about this sit­u­a­tion.

The Den­ver Elec­tions Di­vi­sion has fought to mod­ern­ize elec­tion pro­cesses and con­duct fair, ac­cu­rate, se­cure, trans­par­ent, ef­fi­cient elec­tions for our vot­ers. As this is­sue plays out, it is im­per­a­tive that the voices of vot­ers and the pro­fes­sion­als who are re­spon­si­ble for the day-to-day con­duct of elec­tions are heard.

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