DENVER – Three of Colorado’s members of Congress are calling for President Donald Trump’s controversial election integrity commission to be disbanded or handcuffed in the wake of nearly 4,000 voter registration withdrawals in their home state over the past three weeks.
Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., sent a letter to the commission, its vice chair, Kris Kobach, and Vice President Mike Pence asking they “immediately terminate” the commission, which he said was “wasteful and harmful” and formed only “as the result of delusion, conspiracy theories, and truly ‘fake news.’”
He said the “entire premise for its origination has zero basis in any peer-reviewed study or analysis” in the letter before going on to call the commission’s quest to get voter roll information from each state a “taxpayer-funded fishing expedition” that he said was “eroding trust and confidence in our democratic institutions and perpetuating fear in communities throughout the country.”
Bennet pointed to the nearly-4,000 Coloradans, most of whom are Democrats or unaffiliated voters, who had withdrawn their voter registrations since the commission’s request was sent to Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams as reasons why the commission should be dissolved.
“Given the spike in these registration withdrawals, I request that you immediately end the commission and describe how you intend to reverse the damage that it has already caused in my state,” Bennet wrote.
Most of the registration withdrawals since June 28 have been chalked up to the commission’s vice chair’s request, and Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams’ saying that he’d hand over the voter roll information that he’s required to under state law.
In Colorado, that means he’s required to send 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 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.
But Williams still hasn’t sent over any of the information, as the commission asked last week that no states send the voter roll information over until a federal lawsuit in Washington D.C. is decided.
But Bennet was joined by fellow Colorado Democratic members of Congress in expressing their displeasure with the commission this week, when Reps. Diana DeGette and Jared Polis joined more than 70 other members of the U.S. House of Representatives in also calling for the commission to end its quest for voter roll information.
“The federal government has an obligation to protect the personally identifiable information of the American people. We believe your June 28th request to the states would do the opposite by ignoring the critical need for robust security protocols when transmitting and storing sensitive personally identifiable information and by centralizing it in one place,” the members of Congress wrote.
The commission has gone back-and-forth about how it wanted the states to transmit the information, eventually opting for a secure network on the same day the commission asked states not to send any information over until the lawsuits were resolved.
Calling the commission “bogus,” DeGette said its request was deterring people from participating in democracy.
“It’s clear that many Coloradans simply don’t trust this ill-conceived effort, and for good reason,” DeGette said. “Maintaining the integrity of our elections is a critical priority, but this ‘investigation’ is the wrong solution.”
Williams, as have many others, has repeatedly said that voter fraud in the U.S. is extremely rare.
He noted in a letter to Kobach on Friday in which he outlined Colorado’s voter system that there were only 18 election-related crime cases prosecuted or under investigation in Colorado since November 2000. He also said that the information the commission requested wouldn't be able to be used to verify the accuracy of voter rolls in the U.S., as most states are withholding some of the information the commission requested--including Kobach's own Kansas.
There are more than 3.3 million active registered voters in Colorado, meaning that the number of withdrawals amounts to about 0.1 percent of the state’s total voting population.