Government

Iowa says no to federal request for voter information

Pate draws line at releasing personal info on voters

Stephen Mally/The Gazette

Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate introduces Donald Trump during a fundraiser at the Cedar Ra
Stephen Mally/The Gazette Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate introduces Donald Trump during a fundraiser at the Cedar Rapids Country Club in Cedar Rapids in April 2015. Pate said Friday he has not complied with a federal request for information about Iowa voters, saying state law prohibits the release of some of the personal information requested by the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Iowa’s top election official has not complied with a request from a federal electoral integrity commission to provide a list of the names, party affiliations, addresses and voting histories of all voters.

The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity has told secretaries of state to provide about a dozen points of voter data, including dates of birth, the last four digits of voters’ Social Security numbers and any information about felony convictions and military status.

Some voter information is a matter of public record, but releasing other data — Social Security numbers, for example — could violate privacy laws, according to state election officials.

According to some reports Friday, all but three states — California, Connecticut and Virginia — had complied.

However, Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate said Friday he has received the commission’s letter but has not shared information with the commission.

The Iowa Code specifies a formal process for requesting voter information, Pate said, and his office will fulfill the request if it complies with Iowa law.

“However, providing personal voter information, such as Social Security numbers, is forbidden under Iowa Code,” Pate said.

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Pate will be attending a meeting of secretaries of state next week “where the commission’s letter will likely be discussed.”

The president formed the commission to investigate alleged voter fraud in the 2016 elections. Trump, who lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton, has alleged that 3 million to 5 million people voted illegally. So far, there has been no credible evidence to support that claim.

Election Integrity Commission head Kris Kobach, Kansas secretary of state since 2011, said the information is needed to compare voter rolls state-to-state. Beyond saying the commission will “fully analyze” the data, Kobach did not say what he will do with the sensitive and personal information.

Neither did he explain where or how the information would be stored or protected. It indicates the files will be made publicly available.

Some state officials have agreed to share information that is part of the public record. Others have refused because there is no evidence of voter fraud in their states and believe it is part of a large-scale voter suppression effort.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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