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Ohio Groups Back Decision to Keep Voter Data Private

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Could the federal Election Integrity Commission affect voter participation if people start seeing voting as a privacy risk? (Tim Evanson/Flickr)
Could the federal Election Integrity Commission affect voter participation if people start seeing voting as a privacy risk? (Tim Evanson/Flickr)
July 26, 2017

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Voting-rights advocates are backing Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted's decision to not give private voter information to President Donald Trump's Election Integrity Commission.

The White House panel requested voter data from states as it investigates the president's claims about fraud in the 2016 election. Husted responded by offering an online link to public-record voter information and stating that private information, such as voters' Ohio drivers license numbers, will not be provided.

Catherine Turcer, executive director of Common Cause Ohio, said it was the right move.

"The commission seems bent on looking for something that doesn't actually exist,"she said, "and asking for voter information and all sorts of information that is just truly not necessary and that they don't have the right to have."

Husted also informed the commission about efforts to address voter fraud in the state.

"We believe the accountability system in Ohio elections can be a model for other states to follow in pursuing the goal of making it easy to vote and hard to cheat," he said.

The Election Integrity Commission itself has been the subject of controversy over concerns about privacy and states' rights. Turcer said there also are worries that it could affect voter participation.

"There does not seem to be a wave of people leaving the voter rolls because of this commission, but I do worry that voters will get scared off," she said. "What's really important here is getting out there and voting, and doing what you can to participate in our democracy."

On Monday, a federal judge ruled to allow the commission to gather voter data, rejecting arguments from the Electronic Privacy Information Center that the request violated Americans' privacy.

The Election Integrity Commission's original request to Husted also is online at sos.state.oh.us.

This collaboration is produced in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded by the George Gund Foundation.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH