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Public interest groups renew call for WV to withhold voter information requested by EIC


The State Journal

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity convened for its first meeting today, without all of the voter information it had requested from all 50 states.

In June, CEI sent letters to Secretary of States across the country seeking “publicly available voter roll data” including, where permitted, the full names, addresses, partial Social Security numbers, dates of birth, party registration, voting status and other details, which would then be cross-checked with federal databases. Some states refused the request outright, others voiced concerns and agreed to provide only the information they would provide to any public request.

The president has been critical of the motives of states that have refused to comply with the EIC’s request, suggesting they have something to hide.

But a spokesman for West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner said CEI was notified there’s a fee — $1,000 — to access the Mountain State’s voter list. Until that fee is received, no information will be released. And even if PEIC ponies up the money, state officials said it won’t get all of the information it asked for.

WV State Code 3-2-30 allows state officials to release only names, addresses, party affiliations, voter status and registration dates, but nothing more. Other details — including a voter’s Social Security number, drivers’ license number, phone number and email address — must remain confidential.

Several public interest groups think any information is too much information.

Julie Archer, project manager for the West Virginia Citizen Action Group, urged state officials to deny the EIC request, saying there’s ” strong reason to suspect” the request is not meant to study and promote election integrity.”

“A number of states have refused to share information with the commission fearing that participation will legitimize the false and debunked claims of massive voter fraud made by President Trump,” Archer said. “This waste of government resources and invasion of our privacy is all being done in an attempt to suppress people’s right to vote. West Virginians and our state officials should refuse to cooperate in any way with this sham commission.”

The League of Women Voters of West Virginia also has weighed in, pointing out that because it was formed under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, any documents submitted to the EIC must be made available for public inspection — which, the League said, would run contrary to West Virginia law.

“West Virginia requires the recipient of voter registration lists or data files containing voter names, addresses or other information derived from voter data files to agree that the information ‘may not be used for commercial or charitable solicitations or advertising, sold or reproduced for resale,'” League President Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote. “Given the FACA requirement that all the information would be made public to everyone, how can you ensure that these limitations on use of the data are preserved by the EIC?”

Rosenbaum also said there’s no evidence of significant problems with voter registration fraud in West Virginia and “no evidence improperly registered people actually vote.”

He complains the EIC request “represents an inappropriate and ill-conceived federal overreach into state sovereignty.”

“We believe that the states, which already have this responsibility, are the best guardians of voter information,” Rosenbaum said.

The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia and WVCAG, meanwhile, submitted a Freedom of Information request July 18 seeking “all records” that had been provided to CEI. The groups also requested any materials “referring to, supporting or related to your ‘views and recommendations’ to the commission. The groups also requested information on any communications state officials had had with PACEI or its members.

In a letter accompanying the records request, ACLU and WVCAG cited the threat to individual privacy and how the information would be used. Elections, they wrote, “should be secure and free of misconduct.”

“Fortunately, it’s possible to protect election integrity without disenfranchising eligible voters,” they said in the letter. “The ACLU of WV and WV CAG urge you to join the many election officials around the country who are refusing to cooperate…”

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