Husted, Warner make right call
Controversy over a federal commission’s request for information on American voters is more than a bit overblown. Claims the panel is asking states to invade the privacy of voters are simply inaccurate, as a matter of fact.
Still, secretaries of state Jon Husted of Ohio and Mac Warner of West Virginia are absolutely right to take firm stances on one of their responsibilities, protecting voters’ privacy.
Husted and Warner are among the vast majority of chief state election officers who are refusing to provide all the data being sought by the new Presidential Commission on Election Integrity. Established by President Donald Trump, the panel is to look into his allegations of widespread voter fraud in last year’s elections.
Members of the commission have sent state election officers letters seeking both input on the voting process and data on voters.
Specifically, the commission’s letter seeks voters’ names, addresses, birth dates, the last four digits of their Social Security numbers, party affiliations, records on which elections they cast ballots in, beginning in 2006; criminal backgrounds, military status and other information.
Obviously, neither Warner nor Husted should hand all of that data over to the commission. As critics of the request have pointed out, if every state furnished all the information, it could result in creation of a database that would be the dream of every identity thief in the world. Given the government’s record on data security, there is no reason to be confident this database could be kept confidential.
But overlooked, possibly by design, in much criticism of the letter is one clause in it. Members of the commission were careful to specify they want only data available publicly under the laws of the states.
In other words, the panel is seeking only information anyone — and we mean anyone — can get already.
Warner and Husted have said they may provide some records sought by the commission — but not all. Obviously, neither man will provide data required by our state laws to be kept secret.
Fortunately, such qualified compliance cannot be taken as an indication of attempts to cover up election fraud in either of our states. Husted and Warner have been energetic in policing elections.
Warner has made the first six months of his tenure a campaign to clean up voter registration rolls.
Working with county election officials, his office has overseen removal of tens of thousands of names listed improperly for years.
Both men have made their dedication to honest elections plain. Now, both are doing the right thing in safeguarding the privacy of millions of voters in Ohio and West Virginia.