Response to ill-advised Presidential Commission risks democracy

Editor’s Note: We sent the following letter to the Hartford Courant in response to their recent editorial. They along with apparently the rest of the media opposed the Trump Commission, in our opinion, for the wrong reasons.  There is much to criticize in the Trump Commission.  Yet there is no excuse for officials to unilaterally disobey the law.  There are reasons for voting lists and voting history to be public documents.  Perhaps we can providing a teaching moment.

To the Editor,

I share the concerns for the ill-conceived Presidential Advisory Commission on Elections shared by Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, officials nationwide, and your editorial on 7/6/2017. Yet in a rush to respond to a clumsy request, the rule of law and the importance of transparent voter rolls is overlooked, at our peril.

Connecticut’s Freedom of Information law is constantly under official attack. We should never condone a unilateral act to disobey the law based on an official’s view of the requester or how they might use the data.  This is no different than the county clerk who refused to follow the law and issue marriage licenses to those she did not approve.

Voter rolls are constantly made available to both political parties. Recently a contractor for the Republican Party exposed all that data and more.  Last year data, likely including voter rolls and more, was insufficiently secured by the Democratic Party.

There is a reason government data, including voter rolls are required to be public.  Not so long ago, UConn students used that data to expose the extent to which the rolls included deceased voters. That same data was used by officials to demonstrate in a way we could verify that hardly any were associated with actual fraud. More recently those pubic rolls were used to uncover and confirm that a state representative had voted for several years and been elected based on an illegal residence.

Public voting rolls provide the only means for individuals and news organizations to independently investigate voting fraud; they provide officials with the only means to provide credible proof that fraud is limited; and for the public to trust in the related decisions by the State Elections Enforcement Commission.

 

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