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In an effort to crack down on voter fraud the Presidential Commission on Election Integrity has requested the names, addresses, birth dates, political party affiliation, military status, and the last four digits of voters’ social security numbers from every state in the union plus the District of Columbia.
The request for releasing voters’ personal information has unleashed a firestorm of controversy across the country. As of last Friday 44 states had denied the commission’s request at least in part or in whole.
The request has also stirred up controversy here in Nebraska. Nebraska State Senators, Kate Bolz and Adam Morfeld, for example, immediately opposed the request, and they have both asked Secretary of State, John Gale, to deny the request. Four other Nebraska State Senators have joined them in opposing the request.
Generally, I oppose the releasing of sensitive, personal data, especially the kind requested by the Presidential Commission on Election Integrity. However, Nebraska State Law actually allows for the release of this kind of information. According to John Gale, our Secretary of State, personal information gleaned from voter registrations may be used for purposes related to elections, political activities, voter registrations, law enforcement, and jury selection. Nevertheless, Nebraska State Law specifically prohibits the releasing of social security numbers. So, John Gale will never release your social security number.
Voter registrations are a matter of public record. Provided that the purposes meet the above criteria, anyone may request voter registration information. However, before you file your request with the Secretary of State, you may want to know that a fee of $500.00 is required and that you will also have to sign an affidavit saying that you will not use the data for commercial or any purposes other than those designated above. Because voter registrations are matter of public record, the Secretary of State is obligated by law to release this information.
John Gale should release Nebraska’s voter registration information. Given the fact that voter registrations are a matter of public record, and given the fact that the Secretary of State is obligated by law to release the voter registration information, and given that the purpose of the Presidential Commission on Election Integrity is to use the information to crack down on voter fraud, I believe John Gale should honor the request of the Presidential Commission on Election Integrity.
John Gale has acted with wisdom and caution. Mr. Gale has asked the Presidential Commission on Election Integrity to provide him with two important pieces of information before releasing the voter registration information. First, Mr. Gale is requiring the commission to submit the required signed affidavit, assuring him that the commission will only use the data for the above stated purposes. Mr. Gale wants the commission to assure him that the data will be used in compliance with Nebraska State Law. Second, Mr. Gale would like the commission to explain how they intend to keep the information secure. For instance, the commission will not be permitted to publish your personal information on a website open to public viewing nor will they be permitted to store the information on an unsecured server. Consequently, I believe Mr. Gale has acted wisely and with caution before releasing your sensitive information to the federal government.