Late last week, in response to an information request from President Trump's Election Integrity Commission, Secretary of State Jim Condos indicated he was "bound by law to provide our publicly available voter file, but will provide no more information than is available to any individual requesting the file."
But on Monday, Condos walked back that statement in a press release noting his office is "considering all options in refusing to assist federal commission overreach."
"Over the weekend I have heard from many Vermonters who have contacted me with their concerns about sending their personal information to President Trump's so-called Election Integrity Commission," noted Condos. "I want to make one thing perfectly clear: Vermont will NOT be complying with the Commission's request for Vermont voters' private and sensitive information. Social security numbers, dates of birth and driver's license numbers are all off limits. Protecting the privacy and security of Vermont voters' most sensitive information is something I take very seriously, and I will not compromise the privacy of Vermont citizens to support the Trump Administration's witch hunt for widespread voter fraud, which has been disproven many times over by non-partisan experts."
Even more disturbing, noted Condos, is the fact the Commission's email address for submission of voter data is unsecured. "For Kris Kobach and Vice President Pence to think that having sensitive voter data sent in this manner is acceptable is baffling. I replied to the Commission's request for information asking how this data will be used, transferred securely and stored in a secure manner. I have not received a response, and I refuse to respond or comply with any part of this data request until I receive answers to these important questions."
Since Kobach issued the letter last week, nearly 30 states have said "No, thank you." In response, the Tweeter in Chief has asked what do the states "have to hide" when it comes to voter fraud.
"Vermont has nothing to hide," responded Condos. "Vermont has had no complaints of voter fraud in at least a decade."
Condos noted the Commission's true purpose is not ferreting out voter fraud, but instead rationalizing"the President's unsubstantiated claims that 3-5 million people voted illegally in the last election. ... its true purpose is to champion the President's false and baseless claims of voter fraud to aggressively pursue a campaign of voter suppression and intimidation."
Don't take it just from Condos. The editorial board for The Kansas City Star editorial board wrote "It isn't too far-fetched to worry Kobach wants the data to enable a national campaign of voter suppression and disenfranchisement. It could be the first step in repealing the motor-voter registration law or establishing a national voter file."
If the current administration and its "Integrity" Commission are intent on preserving one of our nation's hardest-fought-for rights — the right of everyone to vote in a free and fair election — it would be considering ways to make it easier to vote, including updating election equipment, encouraging automatic and same-day voter registration, utilizing paper ballots rather than touch screens, expanding voting by mail, eliminating unnecessary voter ID laws that deter eligible voters, making polling places more accessible and reducing long lines and wait times at the polls.
As Condos wrote in May, "the true voter fraud is denying any eligible American the right to participate in our democracy and cast their vote. Voter suppression through unnecessary restrictions to the ballot box are not the American way."