Tensions in this country are high. Our nation is as divided politically as I can ever remember. On the issue of the day, people run to their political camps as quickly as possible and begin hurling insults at those with whom they disagree.
Our founders knew what they were doing when they designed our form of government. They knew that an adversarial system of governance would best ensure our liberties were protected, but could at times create strong disagreement among the American people. But disagreement is okay. It beats the alternative of tyranny. It is fitting that this most recent debate on voter data occurs on Independence Day weekend.
Last week, the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity requested publicly available voter data from states in an effort to enhance the integrity of our elections.
In this era of big data and government overreach, I understand concerns. But the outrage over this request is based on a misunderstanding of the facts.
Here are the facts:
- The request was only for publicly available information.
- My predecessor, Secretary of State Jason Kander, provided this information to various entities almost 400 times.
- His predecessor, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, provided this information more than 600 times.
- The law that requires this information be provided is commonly referred to as the Sunshine Law. It is an essential tool to preserve the freedom of our press, protect taxpayers, and preserve transparency.
My willingness to comply with the request for publicly available data is not a political or personal choice. It’s a decision based on the laws governing my office and the information we have. No voter preferences, political affiliations, or confidential information will be provided. The privacy of the voting booth is revered in this country, and it will remain so.
But as Secretary of State, my job is to follow the law. That’s what I intend to do.