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Q&A: Who can request voter information and what does it contain

Anyone can ask, but limits exist on what’s provided
Anyone, including out-of-state entities, can request voter registration data in Colorado.

DENVER – The Trump administration’s recent request for voter registration rolls to help investigate voter fraud met stiff resistance from many states.

The request also prompted multiple lawsuits that accuse the group of breaching the privacy of tens of millions of Americans and offering no indication of what it plans to do with the data, which included home addresses, dates of birth and partial Social Security numbers.

In Colorado, more than 3,700 people withdrew from the state’s voter registry as of a week ago and another 200 had asked to be added to the confidential voter program, according to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. The 3,738 withdrawals represent about one-tenth of 1 percent of the 3.7 million voters still registered. In La Plata County, 21 people asked to be removed from the voting registry.

The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity asked states to provide the information by July 14, but states are waiting until lawsuits against the request are settled. The commission was created by executive order in May to investigate President Donald Trump’s claims that millions of fraudulent votes caused him to lose the popular vote in November to Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Some voters are unaware of how publicly available their voter information is and how easy it is to acquire, but it’s the same information election officials have been providing for years.

“This list is nothing new. It’s the exact same list we provide all the time,” La Plata County Clerk and Recorder Tiffany Parker said.

Here’s an explanation of the voter registry:

Where can voter information be requested?

Each county maintains its own voter registry that can be requested through a county’s Clerk and Recorder’s Office. The secretary of state also maintains a master list that can be requested

Who can request it?

Anyone, including out-of-state entities. According to the Colorado Revised Statutes: “Such registration records, whether paper or digital, are public records subject to examination by any person.”

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams said while anyone can request the information, media outlets, groups running ballot initiatives and political parties make up the majority of the requests.

“Parties purchase this on a regular basis. If you’ve ever been involved in a political campaign and made calls or walked precincts or stuffed mailers, you have been doing that based off of a voter registration list,” Williams said.

What information is included on these lists?

Full first, middle and last names.Residential and mailing addresses.Year of birth.Political party affiliation.Vote history (meaning what years a ballot was cast but not the content of that ballot).Voter status (if a voter is active or not).Designation (if any) as a military or overseas voter.

What is not included?

Full first, middle and last names.Residential and mailing addresses.Year of birth.Political party affiliation.Vote history (meaning what years a ballot was cast but not the content of that ballot).Voter status (if a voter is active or not).Designation (if any) as a military or overseas voter.Voter signatures.Social Security numbers.Driver’s license numbers.Full date of birth (month and day).Any voter information for minors who have preregistered or people placed on the confidential voter list.

How is it provided?

Full first, middle and last names.Residential and mailing addresses.Year of birth.Political party affiliation.Vote history (meaning what years a ballot was cast but not the content of that ballot).Voter status (if a voter is active or not).Designation (if any) as a military or overseas voter.Voter signatures.Social Security numbers.Driver’s license numbers.Full date of birth (month and day).Any voter information for minors who have preregistered or people placed on the confidential voter list.Requests for voter information and history are usually provided in an electronic format, but some counties will also provide printed copies upon request.

How much do requests cost?

The secretary of state charges $50 for a complete copy of the state voter registry. This fee is generally waived when the information is requested by other government agencies.

County level information can also be requested through the Clerk and Recorder’s Office. In La Plata County, it costs $50 for electronic copies or $25 plus 2 cents per name for printed versions.

How quickly can you obtain the information?

Information from the Secretary of State is generally returned within 72 hours of getting a request.

In La Plata County, the turnaround is generally the same day.

Are records kept of who requests voter information?

The Secretary of State’s Office keeps a list of who has requested information. It includes this data:

Name and mailing address of group or organization requesting information.Contact information for the group.Date of request.Files requested.Parker said her office maintains records of who requests voter information for two years before they are disposed.

People can file Colorado Open Records Act requests at either the Secretary of State’s Office or their local Clerk and Recorder’s Office asking for the list of groups and people who have received the voter registry.

Does the requester have to provide ID?

There are no identification requirements to acquire voter information.

“The law is, it’s open to anyone who requests it,” Parker said.

Are voters notified when their information is given out?

No.

lperkins@durangoherald.com. The Washington Post contributed to this story.

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