Common Cause NY Statement re Release of New York Voter Data to Pence Kobach Commission

NEW YORK, NY (08/02/2017) (readMedia)-- In response to the statement made at the meeting of the New York State Board of Elections (BOE) Commissioners this afternoon that Board will honor the Freedom Of Information Law Request made by the federal Pence-Kobach Commission for the information contained in New York State's voter database, Common Cause/NY Executive Director Susan Lerner released the following statement:

"It is distressing and disappointing that the Pence-Kobach commission is collecting this information, but at least, the Board of Elections will stop short of fulfilling the panel's request for even partial Social Security or driver's license numbers and only comply with existing open records requirements. We believe that the BOE should have conducted further inquiry into the way the Pence-Kobach commission will use the requested voter information and whether or not its planned uses should be considered a non-election use before turning over the voter data. The Commission's representations that all information provided to it would be made available to members of the public without restriction has put the Board of Elecitons on notice that there is a reasonable possibility that the Commission will allow the New York voter data to be made available for non-election use.

Common Cause's pending litigation makes very clear that a number of the commission's requests are a violation of the Privacy Act passed in the wake of Watergate revelations that the Nixon Administration compiled information on political opponents.

The Pence-Kobach commission was formed to try to lend legitimacy to the President's unsubstantiated claims that millions of illegal votes were cast in the 2016 presidential election, and that he somehow actually won the national popular vote which in fact he lost by nearly 3 million votes. As a result, the commission is packed with longtime vote-suppressors who, either at the federal- or state-level, employed a variety of tactics to strip citizens of their right to vote for partisan political gain."