DENVER – A day after the White House released voter comments with unredacted personal information sent to the president’s newly-created, controversial election integrity commission, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams sent a letter to the commission touting the integrity of Colorado’s elections and addressing a series of questions the commission asked in its request for voter roll information from U.S. states.
Williams said that though he is complying with the commission’s request, since he can’t lawfully provide confidential voter information, the data “can’t be used to effectively assess the accuracy of voter rolls.”
“Elections are working well in Colorado. By every relevant metric, our state ranks as a leader in election administration,” Williams wrote in the letter, which was addressed to the commission’s vice chair, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
Kobach was the person on the commission who on June 28 first sent the letter to all 50 U.S. secretaries of state requesting certain voter roll information from each state.
Kobach’s letter also asked a series of seven questions regarding any recommended changes to election laws, administration, and voter fraud and intimidation, among other things, in each respective state.
Williams has said since the day after the request first came in that he would only send the commission what was allowable under state law: a voter’s full name, address, party affiliation and date the person registered, phone number, gender identity, birth year, and information about if a person has voted in prior elections.
The commission and Kobach had also requested two things that Colorado won’t hand over: a voter’s Social Security number and a voter’s birth date—things that aren’t public record in Colorado.
The information Williams will send is already publicly available to anyone who requests it and pays a fee, though the state is expected to waive the fee for the commission, as it typically does for government entities.
But Williams’ Friday letter addressed the questions Kobach had posed to him in the June 28 letter.
On several instances in the response letter, Williams recommended the commission start to shift federal resources to help states and the federal government participate in the Election Registration and Information Center (ERIC), which aggregates information from participating states using election, motor vehicle, death and felon information kept by state agencies.
“Because states election officials are the experts at maintaining clean voter rolls, and ERIC is a powerful tool to facilitate this, the commission should reach out to ERIC to better understand its processes and security protocols,” Williams wrote.
He also discussed at length the history of Colorado’s voting processes and the recent shift to an all-mail-in ballot system for most elections. Williams detailed the chain of custody ballots go through during voting, and the extensive precautions in place to keep voter information secure within the state government.
Williams noted that he recently sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly saying he wasn’t pleased with DHS’ decision to not inform local jurisdictions of some security breaches at state and local levels.
“It’s imperative that the federal government inform me and other state chief election officials when potential threats arise,” Williams wrote.
He also again reiterated the rarity of voter and registration fraud in Colorado as well, and detailed the cases involving either suspected or definite voter fraud from Colorado over the past several years.
“There have been a few cases of voter and registration fraud in Colorado, but it’s rare because our laws and policies are designed to prevent it,” Williams said, then detailing the maintenance each county clerk’s office does at least monthly, but sometimes more often.
Williams wrote to Kobach that there were at least 18 cases of convictions and pending cases involving election related crimes in Colorado since 2000:
And he also noted that his office was currently working with the attorney general in Arizona to prosecute a couple charged with voting in Colorado and Arizona during the 2012 election.
“There will be more cases like this,” Williams wrote.
And he continued to push for confidence from voters in the elections systems.
“Basic laws that prevent voter intimidation and electioneering at or near polling locations are certainly necessary. But it’s also important to give voters confidence in the state’s election system through open processes,” Williams wrote.
Williams won’t send Colorado’s voter roll information over Friday, as was originally requested by Kobach, because Kobach asked earlier this week for the information not to be sent over until a federal lawsuit about the commission and its request is decided.
And he was adamant in his letter Friday that the federal government can’t change any Colorado voter rolls, and that all the data the commission should receive in the future be “secured.”
Nearly 3,400 Coloradans had withdrawn their voter registrations since the day the request was made through Thursday, and another 182 had become confidential voters in response to the commission’s request.
And the commission didn’t gain any public favor Thursday, when the White House released more than 100 emails from American voters complaining about the commission and its request. None of the email addresses or other personal information were redacted.