Politics: Colorado voters clamor to unregister
Most cite mistrust of election integrity commission
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