Sunday, July 02, 2017

Do You Want Trump to Have Your Personal Data?

The other day I posted about Governor Terry McAuliffe's response to Der Trumpenführer's disturbing request for voting data from all 50 states that included social security numbers, home addresses, driver's license numbers, party affiliation and other non-public details.  The effort is part of Trump's effort to inflate the myth that voting fraud is rampant and a threat to our democracy.  Of course, meanwhile, Russian interference in our elections is "fake news" and a non-issue in Trump world.  And never mind that numerous studies have shown that cases of true voting fraud are almost nonexistent.  Many believe the real agenda behind the effort is to put forth more efforts to suppress voting by "those people" - blacks and minorities and other reliable Democrat voters - to aid Republicans facing demographic changes that could end their chances at continued electoral victories.  I for one no NOT want the malignant, bullying, vulgar, mentally disturbed individual in the White House to have personal data on me or my my loved ones. I have far more faith in the Commonwealth of Virginia (despite its faults) to look out for my welfare, especially when one looks at the voter suppressing histories of some of Der Trumpenführer's commission appointees.   Thankfully, at least 25 states have said they will not cooperate with the bogus commission.  Three stories in the Washington Post look at the situation.  Here are highlights from the first:
The chair of President Trump's Election Integrity Commission has penned a letter to all 50 states requesting their full voter-roll data, including the name, address, date of birth, party affiliation, last four Social Security number digits and voting history back to 2006 of potentially every voter in the state.
States began reacting to the letter on Thursday afternoon. "I have no intention of honoring this request," said Governor Terry McAuliffe of Virginia in a statement. "Virginia conducts fair, honest, and democratic elections, and there is no evidence of significant voter fraud in Virginia."
Connecticut's Secretary of State, Denise Merrill, said she would "share publicly-available information with the Kobach Commission while ensuring that the privacy of voters is honored by withholding protected data." She added, however, that Kobach "has a lengthy record of illegally disenfranchising eligible voters in Kansas" and that "given Secretary Kobach's history we find it very difficult to have confidence in the work of this Commission."
Under federal law, each state must maintain a central file of registered voters. States collect different amounts of information on voters.
In May, Trump created a commission to investigate alleged acts of voter fraud after he claimed, without evidence, that 3 million to 5 million undocumented immigrants voted illegally in the 2016 election. The commission is chaired by Kobach, who is the Kansas secretary of state and a voter-fraud hard-liner.
Advocates for voting rights and civil liberties are also sounding alarms over the letter. “The concern is that this is going to be used to justify regressive and disenfranchising federal law,” Myrna Pérez, deputy director of the democracy program at New York University Law School's Brennan Center for Justice, said in an interview.
Vanita Gupta, chief executive of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and former head of the Justice Department's civil rights division, said on Twitter that the letter is “laying the groundwork for voter suppression, plain & simple.”
Academics who have studied the issue for decades say that voter fraud — particularly of the type that strict voter-identification laws championed by Kobach and others are intended to combat — is vanishingly rare and that voter-ID requirements are a burdensome solution to a practically nonexistent problem. A federal judge ruled that some of Kobach's proposed ID requirements constituted a “mass denial of a fundamental constitutional right.”

 The second piece here looks at the growing reaction of various states:
While the Trump administration has said it is just requesting public information, the letters met with swift — and sometimes defiant — rejection. By Friday, 25 states were partially or entirely refusing to provide the requested information; some said state laws prohibit releasing certain details about voters, while others refused to provide any information because of the commission’s makeup and backstory. 
“This entire commission is based on the specious and false notion that there was widespread voter fraud last November,” Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) said in a statement. “At best this commission was set up as a pretext to validate Donald Trump’s alternative election facts, and at worst is a tool to commit large-scale voter suppression.”
California, a state Trump singled out for “serious voter fraud,” also refused to participate. Alex Padilla, the California secretary of state, said providing data “would only serve to legitimize the false and already debunked claims of massive voter fraud.”
“It looks like they’re putting together a database of who people voted for,” said Jason Kander, a former Missouri secretary of state who runs the nonprofit group Let America Vote. “Democrat, Republican, independent, everybody should be outraged by that. This is from the same people, from Kris Kobach to Donald Trump, who’ve tried to make it harder for people to vote, and this seems like a step in the process. If the Obama administration had asked for this, Kris Kobach would be holding a press conference outside the Capitol to denounce it. Experts described the request as unprecedented in scope, a recipe for potential voter suppression and troubling for the privacy issues it raises.
“This is an attempt on a grand scale to purport to match voter rolls with other information in an apparent effort to try and show that the voter rolls are inaccurate and use that as a pretext to pass legislation that will make it harder for people to register to vote,” said Rick Hasen, an election-law expert at the University of California at Irvine.
Hasen said he has “no confidence” in whatever results the committee produces. He said the commission and its request create a number of concerns, including that it is an election group created by one candidate for office — Trump, who already is campaigning for reelection — and headed by Pence, another political candidate.
“It’s just a recipe for a biased and unfair report,” Hasen said. . . . . . Experts also expressed concerns about Trump’s appointment of Hans von Spakovsky, a former Justice Department official and a longtime voter integrity advocate, to the commission. Gupta said that he, like Kobach, has “had a single-minded agenda to diminish voter participation and to fight voting rights, and to make voting harder.”
Other states have said that they do plan to hand over information, albeit less than the broad sweep outlined in the letters. Wisconsin’s elections commission administrator said that the state would give the public information for the standard $12,500 fee, but was not allowed to release other details such as dates of birth. Ohio Secretary of State Jon A. Husted, a Republican, said his state would be handing over most of the requested information — noting that it is publicly available — though he said they would not provide portions of Social Security numbers and driver’s license numbers because those are not.

The third piece here, underscores the why this effort is troubling, including the fact that the system the commission chair favors has come up with 200 false targeting of double voter registration for every one that is accurate.  Do the math and it becomes apparent that large numbers of people could find themselves wrongfully disqualified to vote.  Here are excerpts:
In Kansas, Kobach championed the use of Crosscheck, a multistate database of voter registration information that authorities use to check whether voters are registered in two states.
Researchers have found that Crosscheck's matching algorithms are highly inaccurate. A recent working paper by researchers at Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard and Microsoft found that Crosscheck's algorithm returns about 200 false positives for every one legitimate instance of double registration it finds.
“We're concerned about unlawful voter purging, which has been something that Kris Kobach has been leading the charge,” said Vanita Gupta of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and former head of the Justice Department's civil rights division.
An expansion of the Crosscheck system would be “a recipe for massive amounts of error,” according to elections expert Justin Levitt of Loyola Law School. “When you've got hundreds of millions of records, and thousands of John Smiths, trying to figure out which of them are your John Smith without making a mistake is well nigh impossible.” This commission has been, from the beginning, an effort to sell Trump's lie that he won the popular vote,” Ho said. “Kobach's echoed that sentiment himself on camera. Now they've set up this commission that's going to create phony findings to support that lie.”
Some of Kobach's voter ID requirements have been struck down in federal court, with one federal judge ruling that they constituted “mass denial of a fundamental constitutional right.” And earlier this month, a federal judge fined Kobach $1,000 for “presenting misleading arguments in a voting-related lawsuit,” according to Politico.
 One final red flag in the commission's request, according to Levitt, is the inclusion of data on voters' party affiliation. While states are allowed to maintain this information, the federal Privacy Act of 1974 prohibits the federal government from keeping records of voters' party affiliation except in rare circumstances, Levitt said.
Levitt said the Privacy Act was enacted following the Watergate scandal and concerns about Richard Nixon collecting personal information on American voters.
Urge your state officials to tell Trump's commission that it can put its request for information where the sunshine doesn't shine. 

1 comment:

EdA said...

Of course the naming of Hans von Spakovsky to join Kris Krowbar for the voter suppression commission will surely be a source of reassurance -- for those who believe that only the right people should be able to exercise their right to vote.

An utter piece of garbage who would be more at home in Putin's or Stalin's Russia than in what is ceasing the be the land of the free and the home of the brave. How fitting that he's a Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation's Edwin Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies. (Edwin Meese, by the way, Ronald Rotten's Attorney General, is not dead yet.)