Some Colorado election officials say they’ve seen an uptick in the number of voters requesting to end their voter registration after Colorado’s chief election official announced he would turn over public voter data to a commission convened by President Donald Trump to investigate elections.
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams (R) said last week he would provide the state’s public voter file to the commission, which includes voters’ full name, year of birth, political party and voting history. It does not include information like the last four digits of Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers or full dates of birth ― data Williams said he would not provide to the commission.
Even though Williams will turn over only limited information, voters apparently are concerned. Denver election officials told Denver7 and The Colorado Independent at least 180 people had withdrawn their voter registration since July 3. Compared to the eight withdrawals they cited over the same time period the previous week, it amounted to a 2,150 percent increase.
“I never expected to come to work and see such a sudden increase in voter registration withdrawals. I never expected to see more withdrawals in a day than new registrations,” Amber McReynolds, the director of elections for Denver, said in a statement. “The impact on voters is real. The impact on civic engagement is real. The impact on election offices is real.”
In Boulder, election officials told The Colorado Independent they noticed about 270 voters had canceled their registration since Monday. Matt Crane, the Arapahoe county clerk and recorder, told the Independent 42 percent of the county’s 365 requests to unregister so far this year came in the past week.
McReynolds told HuffPost in a Twitter message that she believes voters made a mistake in deregistering. Colorado, she noted, has one of the highest voter registrations as a percentage of the population, which she feared could change.
“Engaging, not disengaging, is essential to participation in making our communities stronger and improving the citizens’ experience,” she wrote. “I believe it is more important to be registered and engaged than not.” She added she believes Trump’s commission could have gotten voter data from other sources, such as political parties.
In Colorado, voters can also pay a $5 fee and sign a sworn affidavit to become a confidential voter to prevent their information from being released to the public if they believe disclosing it could result in harm or harassment. Election officials also told the Independent and Denver7 they had seen an increase in the number of people requesting confidential status. In Mesa County, for example, just 30 people asked for confidential status all of last year, but 60 people did in this week alone, according to the Independent.
There has been widespread backlash after Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) sent a letter to all 50 states requesting all publicly available voter information. Some states have refused to comply with the request on principle, saying they won’t participate in what they see as an effort to exaggerate the existence of voter fraud. Other states have said they will just provide the voter file already accessible to the public, while a few officials have said they are barred by state law from turning over any information.
Critics of the request argue the information could be released to the public and the commission has yet to come up with a secure way of storing it.