INDIANAPOLIS – Hoosiers shouldn't be concerned about the state providing personal voter registration information to President Donald Trump’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, according to a source in Indiana's secretary of state office.
Trump created the commission in May, claiming without evidence that millions of fraudulent votes were cast in the 2016 election, costing him the popular vote. Trump won based on a majority in the Electoral College, defeating Hillary Clinton.
Recently, the vice chairman of the commission, Kris Kobach of Kansas, asked for voter roll information from all 50 states. Most states said they would not provide all the information, and several refused to provide any.
Valerie Warycha, director of communication for Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, said Thursday that it’s an evolving issue. Lawson is a member of the Election Integrity commission.
“The commission told the states not to submit any information,” Warycha said. “None has been released in Indiana.”
Warycha said state law allows the release of only a voter’s name, address and congressional district.
“If there is a public records request,” she said, “the information cannot be used for any commercial reason, only for political and fundraising purposes. The release has to be approved by the co-directors of the Indiana Election Commission.”
Warycha said no one has requested the information.
In some states some residents have asked that their names be removed from voter registration lists. Warycha said, to her knowledge, that has not taken place in Indiana.
Contacted Thursday, voter registration officials in Clark, Howard and Madison counties said they had received no requests from people wanting to be removed from voter registration lists.
”When I heard about the president’s request of all states for voter information, my first thought was, ‘Why?’," said Rachel Jenkins of the Howard County League of Women Voters. “If it was an attempt to find irregularities in the voting systems, I couldn’t help but think it was a solution looking for a problem. The issue has been studied and found that very few instances of voter fraud exist.
"This whole order concerned me for the amount of time and money which would be spent chasing shadows."
In Floyd County, one resident has called the voter registration office to inquire about canceling his registration in response to the Election Integrity commission request, according to employee Nancy Riley.
“I wouldn’t want to give up my Social Security. Just names and addresses of voters, that would be all right,” said another Floyd County voter, Richard Southers.
“Giving out (Social Security numbers) concerns me no matter what I’m doing, be it healthcare paperwork or what,” said Clark County voter Stephanie Wilson. “It seems any public institution can be under siege at any moment. It’s a tough decision, but I wouldn’t cancel my registration. I want to be able to make decisions, and I think decisions are being made through my vote."
Sellersburg voter Joy Spencer was concerned that, with former Gov. Mike Pence now serving as vice president, Indiana would comply with the Election Integrity commission's request.
“I don’t think any state should give that type of information to go into one complete pool of information that can be hacked at any time,” she said. “I would cancel my registration if it does.”
Secretary of State Lawson said Thursday that she remains confident in the integrity of elections conducted in Indiana and other states, and she believes elections and voter registration are the responsibility of the states.
"I already made a public statement that I wasn't going to release any information that included dates of birth, Social Security numbers or any private information," Lawson said.
The (Jeffersonville/New Albany) News and Tribune, the Kokomo Tribune and the (Terre Haute) Tribune-Star contributed to this report.