Pol­i­tics: Colorado vot­ers clamor to un­reg­is­ter

Most cite mis­trust of elec­tion in­tegrity com­mis­sion

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Brian Ea­son

Coloradans are can­cel­ing their voter reg­is­tra­tions by the hun­dreds in the wake of the Trump administration’s blan­ket re­quest this month for voter in­for­ma­tion, alarm­ing county elec­tions of­fi­cials who say they’ve never seen such a surge of with­drawals in their ca­reers.

The with­drawals rep­re­sent only a small frac­tion of the state’s 3.3 mil­lion ac­tive reg­is­tered vot­ers, but of­fi­cials say the trend is clear, nonethe­less — par­tic­u­larly in the Demo­crat heavy metro area.

Nearly two weeks have elapsed since the com­mis­sion re­quested all of the state’s pub­licly avail­able voter data, and state and county elec­tions of­fices say they’re still be­ing flooded with calls and emails from vot­ers with two chief com­plaints: they don’t trust Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s voter in­tegrity com­mis­sion, and they didn’t re­al­ize just how much of their voter reg­is­tra­tion in­for­ma­tion was al­ready pub­lic un­der state law.

Trump es­tab­lished the ad­vi­sory com­mis­sion in May with a broad man­date: a sweep­ing re­view of U.S. elec­tion in­tegrity, with a fo­cus on voter fraud, voter sup­pres­sion and other “vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties.”

But the ef­fort has been clouded by par­ti­san­ship and dis­trust from the start— in no small part be­cause the or­der came af­ter Trump al­leged with­out ev­i­dence that as many as 5 mil­lion peo­ple voted il­le­gally in his 2016 elec­tion vic­tory against Hil­lary Clin­ton.

“Peo­ple are con­cerned and con­fused about all of this,” said Am­ber McReynolds, Den­ver’s elec­tions di­rec­tor. “We have the same con­cerns. At this point no­body re­ally knows what (the com­mis­sion) is do­ing.”

On Mon­day, the elec­tion in­tegrity com­mis­sion told the Colorado Sec­re­tary of State’s Of­fice not to send the in­for­ma­tion this week as re­quested, be­cause there’s a law­suit pend­ing in fed­eral court that seeks a tem­po­rary re­strain­ing or­der against the data’s re­lease.

As of Tues­day in Den­ver, at least 472 peo­ple had can­celed their voter reg­is­tra­tions since July 3 — up from the 20 peo­ple who did so over the pre­vi­ous two weeks, ac­cord­ing to the elec­tions di­vi­sion.

In Boul­der County, 125 vot­ers with­drew their reg­is­tra­tions in the first 10 days of July, ac­cord­ing to the clerk’s of­fice. Dur­ing the same pe­riod in June, only 15 peo­ple did.

The bulk of those who called or emailed cited con­cerns about the com­mis­sion’s mo­tives, or about their own pri­vacy.

The out­cry over per­sonal in­for­ma­tion that’s been pub­licly avail­able for decades has some won­der­ing if state law­mak­ers will seek to close some of these records to the pub­lic next year.

“I think it brings up a whole ’nother ques­tion for the leg­is­la­ture that they may want to con­sider,” McReynolds said. “Vot­ers did not and have not been aware that this info that’s be­ing pro­vided is pub­lic.”

Un­der Colorado law, a wide range of voter in­for­ma­tion is pub­licly avail­able by re­quest, in­clud­ing a voter’s name, ad­dress, party af­fil­i­a­tion and which elec­tions they’ve voted in — though not the can­di­date they voted for. More than 100 or­ga­ni­za­tions

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