Mea culpa: the uproar over Colorado voter data rolls

“We applaud Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams for turning over only that data that is legally releasable, and dismiss as politically opportunistic calls from some that he should have turned his back to the commission’s request entirely.” –The Grand Junction Sentinel

Hundreds of Coloradans have called, e-mailed or written to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office in recent days, urging Secretary Wayne Williams to refuse to turn over public voter roll data to a commission appointed by President Donald Trump.

Had Williams announced he had no intention of doing so, he might have been a hero to some judging from the angry comments we have received. He also would have been breaking the law and setting, he believes, a dangerous precendent.

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, right, addresses the National Association of Secretaries of State last week in Indianapolis. To his left is California Secretary of State Alex Padilla. (Photo credit: Jonathan Hawkins Photography for NASS)

“Colorado law does not permit the secretary of state, county election officials or anyone else to say, ‘I’m only going to give it to the people I like,’ or, ‘I’m only going to give it to my friends,’ or, ‘I’m only going to give it to the people in my party,’” Williams said at a news conference last week.

“That is not a provision of Colorado law, nor do you want to put such a provision in place where only favored people can receive that information.”

In the meantime, Williams sponsored a resolution unanimously adopted this week at the National Association of Secretaries of States’ summer conference in Indianapolis. It reiterated that states are in charge of elections.

The furor over the White House’s request was felt from sea to shining sea, but I feel guilty about the depth of the angst in Colorado.

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Colorado’s Wayne Williams, other secretaries of state, discuss request for voter data

Secretaries of state, including Wayne Williams of Colorado, right, answer questions from the media Friday regarding a White House commission letter requesting public voter data. The National Association of Secretaries of State is meeting in Indianapolis for its summer conference.

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.

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