Illinois State Board of Elections Postpones Decision on Federal Voter Data Request

Instead, the board is sending a letter requesting more information about the purpose of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

by Rick Pearson, Chicago Tribune / August 23, 2017

(TNS) -- The Illinois State Board of Elections put off a decision Tuesday on the latest request for Illinois voter information made by a panel formed by President Donald Trump to look into his claims of voting irregularities in last year's presidential election.

Instead, the board is sending a letter requesting more information about the purpose of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Illinois officials also want to know whether any information provided truly could be kept confidential, as the federal panel pledged and as Illinois law requires.

The privacy issue is a critical one for state election officials. In early July, the bipartisan elections board rejected an initial appeal for "publicly available" voter data by the federal panel because, under Illinois law, it had no such information available that could be publicly disclosed.

The elections board had agreed to consider the latest request from the federal panel after it issued a new request that vowed to keep voter information confidential.

Board officials said they had questions about the federal panel's pledge of confidentiality based on federal laws that include the Freedom of Information Act. The latest letter will ask the voter panel to provide its rationale for pledging confidentiality and ask for more information about its purposes.

Illinois makes its voter database available to political committees and governmental entities for governmental purposes for a fee of $500. The federal commission led by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has not paid the fee.

Trump formed the panel in May after he claimed without evidence that 3 million to 5 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally voted in the 2016 presidential election, costing him a national popular vote victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton. Democrats contend the purpose of the panel isadvancing efforts to suppress voter turnout and cite little evidence of widespread voter fraud.

Elections officials in at least 13 states have said they would not comply with the federal panel's request.

On Tuesday, Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, a Democrat, formally rejected the federal request as that state's top election official, saying he had "serious doubts about the commission's credibility and trustworthiness."

Illinois officials have said that during consideration of the election voter panel's request "no voter information will be released without board approval and advance notice to the public."

Among the information that the advisory commission is seeking are voter names, addresses, birth dates, the last four digits of Social Security numbers and voting history going back to 2006.

©2017 the Chicago Tribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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