Measure Would Protect Voters’ Personal Information, Prohibit Voter Roll Purges
In response to concerns regarding a federal commission collecting voters’ personal information, Assemblyman Jamel Holley has introduced legislation aimed at protecting New Jersey residents against unwarranted federal government surveillance.
“The Trump administration’s effort to conduct a large-scale collection of information about voters without any indication of what exactly it intends to do with that data should concern everyone who cares about freedom and democracy in America,” said Holley (D-Union). “When one considers President Trump’s nonchalance regarding Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, the gravity of our duty to refuse to comply with the federal government’s request becomes clear.”
The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, formed in May, in June sent a letter to all 50 states requesting voters’ personal information, including: names, addresses, dates of birth, political party, last four digits of Social Security numbers, voter history, information regarding felony convictions, information regarding military status and overseas citizen information. Documents gathered by the commission will be made available to the public, according to Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, vice-chair of the commission.
The bill (A-5140), to be known as the “Voter Privacy Act,” would prohibit the head of any state or local entity in New Jersey from sharing with any federal government entity the Social Security number, digitized signature or New Jersey driver’s license number or permit number of a voter contained in the state’s voter registration system.
The measure, a product of collaboration between Holley and Senator Raymond Lesniak, also would prohibit the Secretary of State from purging voter rolls – or implementing an automated system to remove ineligible voters from the official list of voters – and potentially mistakenly disqualifying voters who actually are eligible from participating in elections.
“The Trump administration emphasizes false claims of voter fraud in order to scare the public into believing that the integrity of our democracy is at risk. The true threat to our democracy, however, is that these claims ultimately can result in the mass disenfranchisement of voters,” said Holley. “In a nation with a history of voter suppression – a practice that surreptitiously continues in many states – New Jersey must act diligently to ensure that everyone who is eligible can exercise the right to vote.”