Tampa Bay Times by Asa Royal
July 31, 2017
During a recent 20-day period, 1,715 Florida voters took themselves off the registration rolls.
The 117 percent spike in cancellations over the same period last year came as news spread of President Donald Trump’s fraud commission and its request for voter data from all 50 states.
Did the request for voter information trigger the cancellations?
While the increase suggests a correlation, regular maintenance of the voting rolls, a routine required by state law and unrelated to the federal commission, might also explain the increase.
Here’s what we do know: On June 28, Trump’s official request for voter information, made by the commission’s vice chairman, Kris Kobach, sought the names, addresses, birth dates, political parties, electoral participation histories and last four digits of the voter’s Social Security number of every registered voter in the country.
The request sparked a media firestorm as Democrats and voting rights activists called the request a veiled attempt at voter intimidation and suppression. Pushback was so intense that the data request was put on hold. Several lawsuits have been filed and questions have been raised about the secure nature of data transmittal, but on Friday, Florida officials agreed to send the state’s voter rolls data to the commission.
Cancellations rose in 38 counties across Florida from June 27 to July 17. In St. Lucie County, 487 voters asked to be removed from the rolls, compared to two voters the prior year. In Lee County, 242 people cancelled their voter registration, up from 38 in 2016. In Monroe County, eight cancelled their registration, up from zero in 2015 and in 2016.
“It really upsets people that their phone numbers, their email address — they give it to us to communicate about voting or absentee ballots — (will) become public record,” Arrington said. “That bothers them immensely. We tell the voters when they’re (cancelling registration) that we can’t guarantee their information is not going to be sent. People are really upset. They want to know what it’s going to be used for. We can’t answer those questions.” [READ MORE]