YOUR VIEW: Registrar disputes Merrill's stand on voter privacy

Published on Thursday, 13 July 2017 19:27
Written by


To the Editor:

Chris Powell’s recent column in this paper regarding his criticism of Secretary of the State Denise Merrill’s refusal to comply with the Presidential Commission on Election Integrity’s request for voter information was spot on.

Secretary Merrill surmises that providing voter records might invade personal privacy and lead to voting suppression of racial minorities and immigrants. These statements are folly in one regard and a false argument in another.

First, most everything on a voter’s registration card is available for public inspection by anyone, at any time. Exceptions are the last four digits of a person’s social security number, address concealment for judges, correction officers and others who meet the Secretary of the State’s criteria under the address confidentiality program, and any other private information deemed off limits via court-ordered prohibitions.

This information can be redacted prior to releasing a voter’s registration information and voting history.

Second, to assert that providing such records might serve to suppress the votes of anyone who is already registered to vote, a reasonable rejoinder might be: What about ensuring the rights of legal citizens to not have their votes diluted by those who may be non-citizens?

Some cities in Connecticut, and even the state itself, are issuing documents that provide an illegal immigrant access to establishing bank accounts, receiving printed government forms and checks plus other official statements that would pass for proof of residency. All of these could be used to register to vote (registrars of voters are refrained from asking for proof of citizenship – a voter’s signature is determined to be proof enough), so the potential for ineligible voters registering and casting votes could plausibly be called into question.

Respectfully, Secretary Merrill should put aside her personal thoughts regarding the Commission on Election Integrity and provide the information they’ve requested as would be done for any other member of the public. To do otherwise might be seen as a dereliction of duty and could place her office in violation of Connecticut’s Freedom of Information laws. This may in turn invite a lawsuit for non-compliance which would not serve well the interests of this state.

Peter Gostin

Registrar of Voters

New Britain

Posted in The Bristol Press, Letters on Thursday, 13 July 2017 19:27. Updated: Thursday, 13 July 2017 19:30.