Sun Sentinel by Sun Sentinel Editorial Board
July 5, 2017
At last count, 44 states have refused to play along with an attempt to soothe President Trump’s bruised ego.
Florida, one of the few holdouts, should join that group.
The states involved say there is no way they will comply with the request of a federal commission — laughably called the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity — that is asking states for detailed voter information. Officials in those states see this voter fraud panel for exactly what it is — a fraud. The commission is essentially Trump’s way of trying to prove voter fraud cost him the popular vote last November.
Evidence of voter fraud is hard come by, including in Florida. Yes, the state’s 67 elections supervisors sometimes fail to remove the name of someone who has died or moved out of state. Nothing is perfect. But Trump insists he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by more than three million votes — all of them illegal votes, and all of them for Clinton.
So his Commission on Election Integrity has asked the states to submit voter data. Specifically, they want voter’s names, addresses, dates of birth, party affiliations, their voting histories, any past felony convictions and the last four digits of their Social Security numbers. Much of that information is public record in Florida, so the commission should have access to it. But not your Social Security number.
There is no compelling reason for Gov. Rick Scott to violate the law and our privacy by giving the commission this information.
As the Electronic Privacy Information Center said in a federal court complaint filed Monday in Washington, the commission is “seeking to assemble an unnecessary and excessive federal database of sensitive voter data from state record systems.” This is a violation of “the informational privacy rights of millions of Americans,” it says.
Gov. Scott’s office is one of the last final holdouts. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the governor — an ally of Trump — hasn’t decided whether to comply and isn’t talking about it.
More time? For what?
Scott knows first-hand that rampant voter fraud didn’t happen.
You may remember that prior to the 2014 election, Scott made a big deal of trying to find non-U.S. citizens on the state’s voter rolls. He called it a “voter purge.”
What happened? He removed exactly 85 voters from the rolls, including some war veterans who had been voting for decades. A federal appeals court eventually ruled that Scott’s administration had violated federal law by attempting to purge voters within 90 days of an election.
At the same time, he’s made it close to impossible for ex-felons to get their voting rights restored. And remember when he cut back the number of early voting sites along with hours of operation? All of which served to suppress the vote, particularly in minority areas.
While Scott is being wishy-washy on Trump’s request for your private information, officials in other states are loudly telling the president “no way.”
“My reply would be: They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great state to launch from,” said Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, a Republican.
“I have no intention of honoring this request,” said Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
“There’s not enough bourbon here in Kentucky to make this request seem sensible,” said Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes.
South Florida Congressman Ted Deutch is among those who wants Scott to just say no.
“This is a sham commission run by the same people that have brought new Jim Crow-style efforts to disenfranchise minority and low-income voters throughout the country,” Deutch said in a statement. “I hope Gov. Rick Scott has learned from his own failed attempts to purge WWII veterans from the rolls in the fake cause of voter fraud.”
Trump used his favorite means of communication — Twitter — to go after states that have refused to release their citizens’ private information.
“Numerous states are refusing to give information to the very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL,” he tweeted. “What are they trying to hide?”
The same question could be asked of Trump, of course, when it comes to his tax returns. What is he hiding?
Trump has never answered that question or supplied his tax returns. Florida should adopt a similar stance — no reply, no information.
If you want to let Gov. Scott know your feelings, here’s his office number in Tallahassee: 850-488-7146. If you want to keep your information private, it’s worth a call.
Editorials are the opinion of the Sun Sentinel Editorial Board and written by one of its members or a designee. The Editorial Board consists of Editorial Page Editor Rosemary O’Hara, Andrew Abramson, Elana Simms, Gary Stein and Editor-in-Chief Howard Saltz.