Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams said today at the National Secretaries of State summer conference that election officials work hard to make it easy to vote but difficult to commit voter fraud.
Williams was one of five secretaries of state from both parties who fielded questions from the media about a request from a White House presidential commission for voter data — a move that has set off a firestorm nationally and in Colorado. State law requires Williams to provide information that is public under the law, and for decades political parties and the press, campaigns and candidates have received voter records.
“You don’t want a secretary of state saying ‘OK, I’m not going to give the information to my political opponents, I’ll just give it to my friends,” he told reporters covering the NASS conference in Indianapolis.
But hundreds of Coloradans have withdrawn their registrations or become “confidential voters” so that Trump won’t get their data when it is sent to the commission one week from today. But making that change doesn’t delete that information already in the public domain.
Williams said at the news conference he doesn’t believe extreme voter fraud figures from either side — that there is none or next to none or that millions voted illegally.
Republican Donald Trump won the presidential election last year, although he lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton. He later said, without providing any evidence, that 3 to 5 million people illegally voted in the election. On May 11 he established the presidential commission, which last week sent a letter to 50 states asking for their voter data.
Williams has repeatedly expressed confidence in Colorado’s methods to safeguard its elections.
In addition to requesting voter data, the commission is also seeking election officials’ input on seven issues, from suggested changes to federal election law, to support on security issues and recommendations for preventing voter intimidation. It is that section of the commission letter that Williams has lauded.
“That’s the chance for states to give information to the federal government to help shape where the commission goes,” he said today.
In addition to Williams, a Republican, secretaries of state at the news conference were Democrat Denise Merrill, the NASS president and Connecticut secretary of state; Republican Connie Lawson, NASS president elect and Indiana secretary of state; Democrat Matt Dunlap from Maine; and Republican Paul Pate of Iowa.
Both Lawson and Dunlap are members of the White House commission, as are New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, Ken Blackwell, the former Ohio secretary of state, and Comissioner Christy McCormick on the Election Assistance Commission.
Merrill, who earlier was critical of the commission and wondered about its intent, reiterated her position today.
“Count me as someone who is concerned,” she said.
In her news release about the request, she said: “In the spirit of transparency we intend to share publicly-available information with the Kobach Commission while ensuring that the privacy of voters is honored by withholding protected data.”
Kobach is Republican Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state and the vice president of the commission.
The National Association of Secretaries of State , founded in 1904, is the nation’s oldest, nonpartisan professional organization for public officials.