White House Releases Personal Data of Voters Who Complained About Voting Records Probe

Jul 15, 2017

On Thursday, the White House published public responses to its Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, many of them critical of that commission’s stalled and controversial effort to solicit voter data from states. Those responses, though, have been published complete with commenters’ personal information.

Many of the messages were filed through the activist portal Common Cause, and include only commenters’ names. But a huge number of comments submitted directly by individuals were published with the senders’ email addresses intact, and many include cities of residence, phone numbers, and even home addresses.

“DO NOT RELEASE ANY OF MY VOTER DATA PERIOD,” read one comment spotted by the Washington Post. The commenter’s name and email address were included with the message.

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Another commenter complained that the Advisory commission itself was “led by a notorious champion of voter suppression,” an apparent reference to Vice President Mike Pence. The commenter asked, “now you want to publish my social security number too?” The commenters’ name and email address were part of the White House release.

Many public comments submitted to federal agencies are released with commenters' names and other information. But according to the Post, notification that such information might be published in this case was not published until July 5th, after about half of the emails released Thursday had already been received.

The commission is aimed at investigating President Trump’s doubtful claims that widespread voter fraud caused him to lose the popular vote in last November’s election. The commission initially sought state records that could have included voters' social security numbers, voting records, and other highly sensitive information, but states have broadly resisted the request, and privacy advocates have filed lawsuits seeking to block it.

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