There is a threat to electoral integrity in Indiana and across the nation. It’s not hidden within voter data; it’s the amount of votes that are cast. Because of voter access and turnout problems, too many eligible voters do not vote in Indiana and across the country. America’s elections should be safe, fair, and transparent. But, instead we are seeing a coordinated attack on voting rights in our nation.
Most recently, the demand from the “Election Integrity” Commission, chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, for private information raises substantial privacy concerns. Many states have refused to share data and risk the security of voter’s information.
Here in Indiana, the Secretary of State’s office complied with a limited amount of the voter data demanded by Kris Kobach, vice chair of the commission. Under Indiana law a voter’s name, address and congressional district are available to the public. Otherwise, voter information is kept private.
The voter suppression commission, as we should more aptly call it, requested full names of all registrants, addresses and dates of birth, last four digits of social security numbers, political party and voter history. Kobach has promised that “any documents that are submitted to the full Commission will also be made available to the public.” There was no guarantee that the information will be kept anonymous and secure. For the ACLU of Indiana, the lack of clarity and potential misuse of this data raises substantial constitutional concerns.
While the immediate issue at hand is the privacy of voters, this request and the formation of this committee are indicative of something larger. At the same time that the “Election Integrity” Commission sent out their request, the Department of Justice informed all 50 states that they “are reviewing voter registration list maintenance procedures in each state covered by the NVRA [National Voter Registration Act]” and asking how they plan to remove voters from the rolls. The ACLU sees this as a sign that the Department of Justice may sue states in the hopes of forcing them to remove voters from the rolls, endangering the rights of many. It is the responsibility of our elected officials to preserve and advance the right to vote, not to hinder and impair.
The right to vote is essential to a vibrant democracy. The ACLU of Indiana will continue to protect our democracy and support our constitutional right to have our voices be heard.