Note: for the story on the issue, go here.
By Kaiti Lenhart
The past several days have been very busy here in the Elections Office with phone calls and emails from voters in response to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Voters are concerned about their privacy. We have heard from many voters who want to know why this information is being provided and some who have even requested to cancel their voter registration. One voter removing their registration is too many, and we have heard from several just this afternoon. Unfortunately, the politicizing of elections administration has yet again resulted in voter apathy while undermining trust in democracy.
One strength of our elections process is the fact that it is decentralized. Elections in Florida are independently conducted in each county by competent, transparent, elected Supervisors of Elections who are working for you every day to maintain the integrity of the voter rolls and security of the process.
In May 2017, President Trump signed an executive order to create the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. The Commission has requested each of the 50 states provide voter information. Their request is to the state of Florida, not to Flagler County. The request included, “full first and last names of all registrants, middle names or initials if available, addresses, dates of birth, political party (if recorded in your state), last four digits of social security number if available, voter history (elections voted in) from 2006 onward, active/inactive status, cancelled status, information regarding any felony convictions, information regarding voter registration in another state, information regarding military status, and overseas citizen information.”
In Florida, much of this information is a public record and readily available to any person who makes a request. Yesterday, the Florida Secretary of State responded and agreed to a partial release Florida voter information in response to the Commission. Not all of the data will be provided, as I expected. This has been treated as a public records request and in the state of Florida, your Social Security number and Driver’s License / Florida ID numbers are exempt from public disclosure. Florida will only provide that information which is already publicly available. Just to clarify, this request was made of the Florida Secretary of State, not of Flagler County. Read the full response here.
This public information being provided from Florida to the Commission includes: voter name, addresses, date of birth, political affiliation, registration status and voting history. You vote by secret ballot, so the public voter history information is not “how” you voted, but instead, the elections in which you participate. Social security numbers are never public record and they are not shared to anyone who requests public records by the state of Florida or your local Elections Office.
Many voters in Flagler County, myself included, are deeply concerned with the creation of a Federal voter registration database which may contain personal information of Florida voters. Voter information is used in Florida for one purpose: to verify a voter’s eligibility. A Federal voter database, in my opinion, would be a misuse of the necessary information we collect in the process of conducting elections. The security of any voter’s personal information, whether or not it is a public record, is always our highest priority in Flagler County. It has been reported that the Commission plans to run this data against other Federal databases, therefore we should all be prepared for an overwhelming amount of false positives. I am remembering the “voter purge” of 2012, and that was only data being improperly analyzed in one state, not over 200 million voters nationwide.
In an effort to promote transparency in the elections process and introduce the public to our new voting system which was recently installed in April, we are hosting an Open House and Mock Election on July 18 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. All Flagler County voters are cordially invited to attend. Enjoy a personal tour of the Elections Office and cast your ballot for your “Favorite Flagler County” parks, events, scenic tours, etc. Election results will be available after the polls close at 6 p.m. (More information here.)
Voter participation is essential for the success of our nation and this is the battle of Elections Supervisors across the state of Florida. The Flagler County Elections Team works every day to ensure and protect your right to vote. It is terribly disheartening to have received even one request from a voter to cancel their voter registration. If you have considered this, I would ask that you remember your vote is your voice in government. Your vote is counted in every election. This past Tuesday we just celebrated together Independence Day, the founding of this great nation, in honor of all who fought and died for our freedom. An active, informed electorate builds a strong community. Stay registered AND vote in every election! Please do not hesitate to contact the Elections Office if you have any further questions.
Kaiti Lenhart is the Flagler County Supervisor of Elections. Reach her at 386/313-4171 or by email.
This is scary stuff.
Edith Campins says
Our current elections supervisor is doing a good job, unlike her predecessor.
This kind of information grab is typical of third world dictatorships. I have heard many stories from Republican wing nuts about election fraud but they have never had any proof. This is is a waste of tax payer dollars.
Brad W says
First, thank you to Kaiti for getting out in front and keeping us informed.
Second, regardless of the data being released this effort is still concerning (and should be regardless of party or ideology). This data set in no way could reveal voter fraud, but it can be used other ways.
1. If you are running a national campaign all of that data in one spot plays a huge roll in strategizing. With the 2018 elections coming up and another Presidential elections years after that, this compiled data will be very valuable.
2. If one wants to actually manipulate and influence an election, you need data. A lot of it. This compiled dataset will help a great deal with that.
3. This is a large amount of tax dollars being spent to try and prove a problem that several studies have concluded does not exist. Both Trump & Kobach are desperate to try and be “right” about their obsessive speculations. Both of whom who have demonstrated they will manipulate information and lie to communication a conclusion that is false.
Bottom line is this is an abuse of power and waste of tax dollars. If recent and past history tells us anything, this effort should be very concerning for all Americans. But, as Kaiti, said . . . vote! That’s how you fight this. That’s your ammunition. And what is extremely clear right now is that power needs to be balanced. Do NOT vote Republican in 2018.
Even requesting this kind of “very personal’ information for a “centralized” database is a form of “Voter.
Suppression”! Read the excellent book “1984” by George Orwell. . . and you will clearly see his predictions and the resulting CONTROL by “Big Brother” happening right under your noses.
Those who say that much of this information is “public” may have a point. . . . BUT! BUT! BUT! Putting it all in ONE database is vastly different! You are supporting giving ALL that personal information to the RUSSIANS or anyone else who wishes to continue to manipulate our elections on a massive scale. . . with just a few key strokes. That kind of “Centralized Database” would be ripe for abuse and criminal activity. . . like identity theft! Think of it this way. . . Yes, a lock smith has the tools and “could” break into your house. BUT. . . what if a less honest person had a switch to automatically throw open the doors to the house of every voter in the USA?
Giving up your “right to privacy” absolutely means that you give up your “rights to control your own life”!
Fascism controls our current administration and Republican party. . . through the Alt Right. trump is building a totalitarian regime, and his idiotic supporters are right there applauding him. “There are none so blind as those who refuse to open their eyes and see”!
However, we should ALL heed the call to protect our rights, by Registering To Vote and turning out on election day. The only way to “Stop the Madness” is to vote the “Fascist Totalitarians” OUT! Keep your registration, encourage your friends and neighbors to register to vote! Then go to the polls and take our country back!!! VOTE DEMOCRATIC!!!
Do not withdraw. I think this is just a dirty political scare by those Dems who won’t accept the fact they got their butts kicked in the last election.
Steve Wood says
Well how’s trump looking now? Just heard yesterday trump and Putin made some kind of deal about computer coordination for elections. What does Putin or anyone else have to does with our election system.
R&R: But it’s not the Dems building this database. It’s Trump. Even many Republicams in the House and Senate are against this. It DOES have some very scary implications. Having all of this data in ONe place makes it a prime target for abuse. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out.
I am likely the first person in Flagler County who asked to have my voter registration removed. I appreciate the fine work conducted by Supervisor of Elections, Kaiti Lenhart. it is my firm belief the information our weak Governor, who grovels before the so called POTUS, happily responded by sending Florida voter registration information to the fraudulent WH Commission on Voter Fraud. Kaiti and other supervisors in Florida have the ability to detect voter fraud. We do not want the current criminals in the WH in charge of our voter information!
Everyone must understand the gathering of this information will be used by the GOP, bless their hearts, to suppress the vote in vulnerable counties.
I can certainly identify with your concerns. . . and agree with you completely that such a centralized database is dangerous and ripe for abuse. Although I am traveling out of the country now and not able to attend to such things. . . I might have well done the same.
HOWEVER. . . and this is very important. . . I implore each person who revoked their registration to RE-REGISTER in time for the next election. If GOOD people do not stand up for what is right. . . the “ALT right” will win. They will have gotten you out of the way of their “fascist” plans! VOTE THEM OUT! Then, “un-register” until the next election! . Beat them at their own twisted game! .
Here’s what will happen with what data they get. They’ll run the name John Smith and find 52 John Smith’s in Florida and go ” Voter fraud…John Smith voted 52 times for president in 30 different counties” Because there is only 1 John Smith in Florida. The right wing conspiracy crowd ( Fox, Breitbart, Rush and Jones etc) will run rampant with it on the airwaves and in their world it will become truth. Then the list will be passed on to marketers who can then use the data to market Trump condo’s and golf resorts. Ivanka can peddle her foreign made clothing line…you know because buy American, Hire American is a nice catch phrase but in the Trump businesses isn’t as profitable as having Chinese or Indonesian workers manufacture their goods….ah yes…Trump does love the poorly educated….Murica…fuck yeah.
@snapperhead. . . You are right on!