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Trump’s Attack on Voter Privacy

“In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions who voted illegally,” tweeted [1] Donald Trump on November 27, following his win. Perhaps in an effort to prove social media blather correct, Trump has issued an executive order creating the Presidential Advisory Committee on Election Integrity. The goals of the committee include [2] “studying vulnerabilities in the voting systems that could lead to voter fraud,” which requires collecting a large amount of personal voter information from the states. After facing serious legal pushback, even his supporters are wondering about its legitimacy.

While the purity of the democratic process should be every citizen’s concern, the committee’s latest crusade, in violating privacy [3], has gone too far. In early July, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a suit [4] against the committee claiming that the group collected personal data without securing a system in which to store that sensitive information––a direct violation of the E-Government Act of 2002 [5]. This led the committee to stop collecting partial social security numbers, voting histories, and other information to save face before a judge could block their efforts in response to EPIC’s emergency motion. However, a judge reversed [6] this decision, insisting that the committee did not qualify as a federal agency, exempting them from complying with the E-Government Act’s regulations. This motion allowed the data collection to start up again.

Trump’s cries of voter fraud have little more than anecdotal evidence to back them up. The vast majority [7] of empirical studies have proven just the opposite, giving more reason to prioritize privacy over voter fraud prevention. Even think tanks that support stricter penalties for voter fraud and enhanced voter ID regulations have not documented evidence of widespread fraud. For example, the Heritage Foundation’s [8] issue page on voter fraud cites only a few hundred cases of any type of fraud ranging from impersonation to duplicate voting, to the “ineligible voting” referenced in Trump’s tweet. A few hundred cases is a negligible figure considering the number of votes cast. Other studies [9] have found similar numbers, making it clear that, at the very least, this is an issue unworthy of an executive order.

Unfortunately for Trump, EPIC’s lawsuit was not the end of the legal battle. Upon the committee’s formation, Democrats took issue with its leadership [10], which was purely Republican. For this reason, the ACLU filed another suit [11] for violating the Federal Advisory Committee Act’s (FACA) requirement that committees be “fairly balanced.” The lawsuit also takes issue with the committee’s lack of transparency. Because millions [12] of eligible voters lack proper ID, stricter voter ID laws make it more difficult for everyone to vote, including legal residents.


Many Democrats argue [13] that these policies amount to voter suppression and directly affect Democratic turnout, in addition to being discriminatory, since these policies disproportionately affect minority voters.

But Republicans also have raised concerns over voter privacy rights. After the committee chair and Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, sent out initial data requests to each state, 44 refused [14] to cooperate fully in the interest of protecting their citizens’ rights to privacy. Most of the uncooperative states consider some or all of the data requested––including voter birthdates and partial social security numbers––too sensitive to release. Among the state officials who were not compliant with the data collection was Mississippi’s Republican Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, who responded [15] to the request by inviting the committee to “jump in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Demanding that state level officials hand over citizens’ information from their independently administered registrations and elections is indeed an overreach of executive power. Voters have a right to prevent their personal data from being aggregated at a national level where it is subject to the whims of a privileged few that have failed, countless times [16], to keep information secure. This wasteful, invasive data collection should be stopped before voters’ sensitive information is left in the hands of Washington bureaucrats.

Lili Carneglia is a Young Voices advocate.

13 Comments (Open | Close)

13 Comments To "Trump’s Attack on Voter Privacy"

#1 Comment By the answer is no On August 9, 2017 @ 11:20 am

I have to agree with this. I don’t trust Democrat-dominated state political machines one little bit. I think they steal, forge, and in some cases “lose” votes. But I don’t trust the Federal government with voter information at all. Not after the Feds lost 20+ million of their own personnel records from the Office of Personnel Management, not after the NSA and Homeland Security abuses, not after the mass surveillance revelations, not after the growing number of stories about Federal employees accessing “secure” databases to spy on, stalk, and blackmail their neighbors, ex-spouses, etc.

The federal government has proven to be incompetent, untrustworthy, and creepy when it comes to our privacy and private information.

Give these same people our voter records? Forget it.

#2 Comment By Xam On August 9, 2017 @ 12:39 pm

Heaven forbid that we ensure the integrity of our democracy for fear of being “creepy”. The stalwarts of the deeply entrenched corruption that got Trump elected are fearful of exposing just how compromised our elections really are. So far there are 11 counties in California alone that have great than 10% more registered “voters” thank they do eligible voters. This is necessary and long overdue. Do you have concerns regarding privacy ? Good, they’re very valid, start with the federal governments collision with big Telecom/Internet.

#3 Comment By JonF On August 9, 2017 @ 1:01 pm

In the majority of cases where fraudulent voting has been found it has involved the same person voting in two jurisdictions, for example Florida snow birds casting a vote by absentee ballot in one state while voting in person in another. Voter ID is useless in combating this sort of thing.
What we really need a national voters’ registration database, one that automatically check any new registration anywhere against existing records and notify the authorities there that a voter may have moved. They could then verify whether that is the case or not and cancel the older registration if it is. Also such a database should be linked with the Social Security death index so local authorities can also receive prompt word of a presumed voter’s demise.

#4 Comment By c matt On August 9, 2017 @ 3:15 pm

What exactly have they kept to turn over? Basic voter information is publicly available anyway. As for IDs – why the resistance? An ID is not hard to get at all. If someone can’t do the bare minimum to get a state issued ID, they probably shouldn’t be voting. If they are here legally, which is required to vote, then they have already gone through a much more difficult process. Seriously, they have to show an ID to buy a beer, but not to vote? The Democrats oppose it for one simple reason – it makes their fraud harder to pull off.

#5 Comment By Jim Jatras On August 9, 2017 @ 3:40 pm

This commentary totally ignores the fact that anyone can register to vote simply by checking a box on a driver’s license affirming citizenship. No documents are presented or proof shown. Checks for false answer are spotty or nonexistent.

The few states that have tried to mandate documentary proof (not just affirmation) of citizenship for registration have been blocked by the courts [17]

Keep in mind that proof of citizenship is *not* the same as voter ID laws, which simply seek to establish the voter’s identity and residence, not citizenship. Voting by legal aliens (i.e., permanent residents) is every bit as illegal as voting by illegal aliens. No doubt many legal residents check the Yes box without full awareness that they are not allowed to vote and are committing a crime. That still doesn’t mean they should be allowed to vote.

Re “Trump’s cries of voter fraud have little more than anecdotal evidence to back them up,” how can we expect to have anything more than anecdotal evidence without gathering the hard evidence where it is to be found? We need to compare voter rolls to DHS records of green cards, naturalizations, and illegals known to be in process.

It’s clear that at least some states don’t want to do that for an obvious reason. They know, or at least suspect, that there are a large number of voters who are not citizens but who vote reliably Democratic. They *want* non-citizens to vote and offset citizens’ votes because they profit from it politically.

Re “Many Democrats argue that these policies amount to voter suppression and directly affect Democratic turnout, in addition to being discriminatory, since these policies disproportionately affect minority voters.” — funny how opponents of ballot security have all the money in the world to challenge protective laws in court but won’t spend their money on helping supposedly “disproportionately” impacted voters get on the roll. The Rolling Stone article at the link says (I have no particular basis to dispute the statistic): “More than 10 percent of U.S. citizens lack such [government-issued] identification, and the numbers are even higher among constituencies that traditionally lean Democratic – including 18 percent of young voters and 25 percent of African-Americans.” So why aren’t do-gooders’ funds being spent to help bona fide citizens get the required documents, instead of undermining efforts to keep non-citizens from voting? The answer is pretty obvious.

#6 Comment By MEexpert On August 9, 2017 @ 3:42 pm

Of course the democrats will oppose this committee. All the illegal vote are cast for democrats. I don’t understand the opposition to IDs. In addition to showing the ID to buy beer, you have to show ID to cash a check, register in a hospital, enter a National park, even at the ticket counter, and several other places. Voting is much more important than buying beer, so why not require an ID.

#7 Comment By polistra On August 9, 2017 @ 5:38 pm

It’s not an overreach or illegal. Information about voters isn’t sacred or private. Even the secret ballot isn’t required by the Constitution; it’s only a habit.

Like everything else Trump does, this is just STUPID and self-destructive. Trump continues to give Deepstate new reasons to commit crimes and disobey Federal laws, and then doesn’t fire anyone for committing the crimes and disobeying Federal laws.

#8 Comment By Bruce B On August 9, 2017 @ 9:22 pm

You have proposed a false equivalency. No one has a right to buy beer or cash a check. All citizens have a RIGHT to vote. It’s in the Constitution.

As for your contention that “all the illegal votes are cast for democrats,” please cite some proof. (No, Trump’s tweets do not qualify.)

#9 Comment By prosecute local On August 10, 2017 @ 12:44 am

@XAM : “Heaven forbid that we ensure the integrity of our democracy for fear of being “creepy”.”

I think you may have intended that to be “failed to ensure” …

In any case, yes, there’s a big problem with government and privacy. “Creepy” really doesn’t cover it, not with people like James Clapper still at liberty.

That we’re debating who is less trusted, the state governments that “own” the voter data or the federal government that wants it – is an index of just how grim things have become.

One very strong reason not to give the Feds voter data is because it has been widely reported that the Feds have been letting foreigners (governments, contractors, God knows who else) see our private data. Unless and until that gaping hole in national security is convincingly plugged by laws and law enforcement with harsh criminal penalties, I’m not comfortable with the Federal government getting my state’s voter data. I’d rather deal with the corruption at the state level than hand over information to creepy Feds who in turn may well hand it over to some of the biggest “creeps” of all – foreigners and criminals.

#10 Comment By Fabian On August 10, 2017 @ 10:51 am

Well, it looks like transparency and partisanship must stop when liberal doughnuts are at risk of being eaten by somebody else.
-If you want to vote at the federal level, you abide by federal rules.
-That the “committee” is entirely Republican should not be a scandal when the “committee” to remove Trump (the Russian business) is entirely Democrat. You have your committee, we have our committee!

#11 Comment By Tim On August 10, 2017 @ 4:34 pm

” After facing serious legal pushback, even his supporters are wondering about its legitimacy.”

President, Trump. Meaning he won the election. I sincerely do not appreciate liberal confundus putting totally inaccurate words in my mouth. I support this president, and what I wonder is when Hillary will be prosecuted, not what will happen when voter fraud is eliminated….. Lili, do not insult me again.

#12 Comment By Tocqueville On August 11, 2017 @ 11:00 am

The ideological purpose here is quite plain to see: to erase the distinction between citizens and resident aliens, both legal and illegal. Cultural Marxists detest the nation-state. The citizen/noncitizen distinction is, to them, Jim Crow. Any effort to confine voting to citizens is, in their mind, the thin en of a wedge whose thick end is separate drinking fountains for non-citizens.

The bottom line is that voter fraud is a real problem and one that we don’t pay half enough attention to.

Encouraged to do so by the Obama administration, some blue states now gives driver’s licenses to illegal aliens. Even worse, pursuant to the Motor Voter law, all applicants are AUTOMATICALLY registered to vote when acquiring a license unless they explicitly ask not to be. In California alone, more than a million illegal aliens have been given driver’s licenses since the law changed two years ago.

When you get a form from your local County Court asking you to register for jury duty, one of the questions on the form is “Are you a U.S. Citizen?” In the vast majority of jurisdictions, the jury pool list is compiled from the voter registration rolls. So anyone ticking the “No” box is admitting to registering to vote illegally. But Blue state governors and Miss Carneglia seek to prohibit anyone from comparing those lists.

Scholarly researchers have determined that more than 6% of noncitizens, legal and illegal, registered to vote in the 2008 election. [18]

Attempts to bring these and related issues to the attention of the George W. Bush and Obama Justice Departments were greeted with stony silence.

This article​ ​epitomizes what I find so unsatisfying, and unsatisfactory, about so much of TAC these days. The only consistent position it has is anti-interventionism, which is fine and good up to a point, and probably represents where most of the country is right now. Otherwise​,​ TAC is all over the place: very critical of political conservatives, but with no coherent politics​, and no moral core,​ of its own.

I have always liked reading Pat Buchanan, and there is a real verve and clarity about him, even when I think he’s wrong. Why has his magazine turned into such a muddle? It’s very puzzling. Why does his magazine so poorly represent the kind of vibrant, red-blooded American patriotism that Pat has always embodied? Again, a big puzzle to me.

#13 Comment By Howard On August 11, 2017 @ 11:27 am

Jumping in the Gulf of Mexico is not a bad idea this time of year.