Voters are withdrawing their registrations in response to President Donald Trump’s controversial election commission's request to states to hand over voter information — but prominent Democrats say that's a very bad idea.
As of Friday, 46 states had refused to fully cooperate with the commission’s request, but Colorado, a state that had agreed to turn in publicly available information, had seen people looking to withdraw their information completely from their voter systems.
“What we’re hearing from voters is that they are concerned with the commission,” Haley McKean, a spokeswoman for the Arapahoe County Clerk in Colorado, told BuzzFeed News.
McKean said at least 160 people had withdrawn their information in the county since the start of July and that “dozens” of others had changed their information to confidential.
She said it is unclear at this point whether it is mostly Democrats who had concerns, but said that the county is looking to analyze the information.
“Colorado prides itself on its voter registration and its voter turnout,” Lynn Bartels, communications director for Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, told BuzzFeed News. “The idea that people are withdrawing their registration, even if it’s just temporary, is not news we want to hear."
Bartels said that people who plan to withdraw told her they would re-enroll once the information is sent to the White House.
But even if voters withdraw their information to avoid the list that will be handed over, Bartels said voters' public information has already been out there long enough for the Trump campaign and others to have acquired it.
The Denver Channel reported hundreds of Coloradans were looking to withdraw their registrations following Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams' announcement the state would comply at the end of June.
"We will provide publicly available information on the voter file, which is all they have asked for," Williams said in a release.
Bartels added that Williams thinks it's a "dangerous precedent" to not give public information to people requesting it, especially based on their political leanings.
On Twitter, some liberals have been threatening to withdraw their information, if they haven’t already done so, depending on whether their states decide to comply.
But Democrats who have been critical of the commission are encouraging voters not to withdraw in protest, arguing that the point of the commission is voter suppression and doing so would play right into the Trump administration’s hands.
Among those urging Democrats not to withdraw were former Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer and former Missouri Secretary of State (and failed US Senate candidate) Jason Kander.
The White House did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News’ request for comment.
The vice chairman of the commission, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, gave states approximately two weeks to provide data points including birth dates, the last four digits of Social Security numbers, voting history, military status, and information about felony convictions.
In a statement last week, Kobach challenged the accuracy of reports saying most states had refused to comply with the request, calling them “patently false.”
“Despite media distortions and obstruction by a handful of state politicians, this bipartisan commission on election integrity will continue its work to gather the facts through public records requests to ensure the integrity of each American's vote because the public has a right to know,” Kobach said.
The Trump administration created the commission in May to investigate alleged voter fraud and suppression in US elections. Trump has long claimed, without a scintilla of evidence, that millions voted illegally in the 2016 election.
Lissandra Villa is a politics reporter with BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Lissandra Villa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.