This past Friday, the last day of June, I was watching a report on the White House request for voter information. A map of the USA showed which states were refusing to comply, and Oregon wasn’t one of them. Why not?
I called Secretary of State Dennis Richardson to voice my opinion and objections. A recording informed me that the Elections Division was receiving “a great many calls” concerned about the White House request, and that Secretary Richardson would soon be issuing a statement on this matter.
I was glad to hear that I wasn’t the only one calling our Secretary of State, but I still wanted him to know how I felt, so I sent off an email. Here is my letter:
“I am writing to say that I think the White House request for voter information is unconscionable, and I strongly object to having my voting record turned over to an administration I do not and cannot trust. To begin with, there is nothing to substantiate that there is any widespread “voter fraud” in this country, and I object to our taxes being used to investigate a problem that doesn’t exist. Additionally, I fear that the Trump administration will use voter records and information to manipulate future elections and/or distort records to make voting harder or impossible for those with a record of voting for Democratic candidates.
I am a United States citizen and an Oregon resident. While serving with the U.S. Army in World War II, my father gave his life to preserve and protect this country and the rights of all American citizens. I am asking you, Secretary Richardson, to protect my voter information and records, and the voting records of all Oregon citizens. Please do not comply with this request for voter information from the White House.”
Ten minutes later, I received a copy of Secretary Richardson’s letter to Kris W. Kobach, Vice Chair of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. The letter detailed the ways in which Oregon’s vote by mail system and automatic voter registration had implemented “tools and processes to establish and maintain…clean voter rolls.” It encouraged sister states to look to Oregon’s model: It provides greater access, is easier, more convenient, more secure and less costly to administer than traditional polling place elections, and automatic voter registration has enabled Oregon “… to validate citizenship data.”
The letter pointed out that Oregon has little evidence of voter or registration fraud, and that most cases involved “…a spouse signing the other’s ballot or a parent obtaining permission from a college-aged child and then signing the student’s ballot.” Oregon has procedures in place that prevent those ballots from being counted.
Mr. Trump claimed that there were “millions” of fraudulent voters in the last election. According to Secretary Richardson, here are the actual numbers in my state: “There have been 15 individuals indicted or convicted of voter fraud since 2000.” Let me repeat that: 15 cases in 17 years, in a state with 2,571,722 registered voters.
The letter informed Mr. Kobach that Oregon policy prohibits the disclosure of certain information, such as social security numbers and drivers’ license numbers, and “Oregon law provides that any person may receive a statewide list of electors upon payment of $500.” In brief, the answer from Oregon was: you can have only what is lawfully a matter of public record and, like everyone else, you must pay the state’s cost for providing those records.
This response made me proud of my state and every other state that has refused to comply, proud of every citizen who made phone calls, sent emails, and generally made noise objecting to this White House request. Better than fireworks on this independence day: red, white, and blue citizen noise. Happy Independence Day to you all.