July 11, 2017
The Honorable Mac Warner
State Capitol, Bldg. 1, Suite 157-K
1900 Kanawha Blvd. East
Charleston, WV 25305
Dear Secretary Warner:
The League of Women Voters of West Virginia has grave concerns about the release of voter information as requested by the Elections Integrity Commission (EIC). We urge you to decline the request for the West Virginia voter file.
Because the EIC is formed under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), any documents that are submitted to the EIC must be made available for public inspection. 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.” 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?
We believe you when you say your “office will be very careful releasing anything other than what we would normally, routinely release to political candidates or political parties.” But, this is NOT a request based on state or federal law. Even if it were based on federal law, there is no evidence that the EIC offers a secure platform for the exchange or maintenance of the information.
The request from Mr. Kobach, states that the voter information will be used “in order for the Commission to fully analyze vulnerabilities and issues related to voter registration and voting.” This mimics the Kansas Interstate Crosscheck Program initiated by Kobach in 2005. It has not been successful. Instead, it has been accused of not protecting data well nor filtering information adequately. That system works primarily by matching voters’ names and dates of birth. If the same name and date of birth show up for voters in two different states, the system flags them as possible double registrations. Researchers have found that Crosscheck’s matching algorithms are highly inaccurate, and the program itself acknowledges that there are a significant number of apparent false positive matches. A broader use of the more accurate and secure Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) system of which West Virginia is a member, undoubtedly better fulfills the stated purpose than the EIC’s sloppy request for voter files.
We do not believe the Commission is genuinely seeking to preserve and promote voter participation and election integrity but rather is unjustifiably and inappropriately collecting information about voters in order to suppress voter participation and to promote a false narrative about voter fraud. This request represents an inappropriate and ill-conceived federal overreach into state sovereignty. Since we already have evidence regarding the vulnerability to cyber-attacks of state and federal governments, the formation of a massive voter registration database at the federal level is most certainly ill-advised from a security perspective.
We believe that the states, which already have this responsibility, are the best guardians of voter information. Concern for the security of voters’ personal information is not a partisan issue. Many of your counterparts have denied this request on principle, as does our national president, Chris Carson. She expresses our belief that “There is no justification for this giant fishing expedition. The Commission itself is a distraction from the real issue of voter suppression, and that efforts to ‘investigate voter fraud’ threaten our most fundamental voting rights.” The Commission also requested you “contribute your views and recommendations throughout this process.” Please take this opportunity to offer your best suggestions.
We recommend that among your views and recommendations you include:
- Oppose the termination of the bipartisan Election Assistance Commission
- Provide federal funds to replace outdated election equipment
- In person voter fraud is nearly non-existent in West Virginia.
- West Virginia has no evidence of significant problems with voter registration fraud. Further, West Virginia has no evidence that improperly registered people actually vote.
The League of Women Voters of West Virginia urges you to join with election officials in Mississippi, Arizona, Kentucky, and many others, in refusing to share this sensitive information!
League of Women Voters of West Virginia