Worried about your safety? You can keep your personal voter info secret in Colorado
If you’re a voter in Colorado there are some things you should know.
Colorado’s secretary of state, Wayne Williams, plans to give publicly available information about you to a federal commission set up by Donald Trump. It’s part of a nationwide voter-data dragnet ostensibly to investigate voter fraud.
But Williams has not pulled Colorado’s voter files yet as of July 3, according to his office. He has a July 14 deadline.
If you’re a voter in Colorado, you should know what’s already publicly available. It’s your address, the year of your birth, which party you belong to or whether you’re unaffiliated, and when and where you voted in past elections and what those elections were. (Obviously who you voted for is secret.) That’s what Williams will turn over to Trump’s voter fraud task force, which is vice-chaired by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
In Colorado, you can can keep this information confidential if you’re worried about your safety. And if you do it before Colorado pulls the voter file, Trump’s federal commission won’t get your info, according to the secretary of state’s office.
The process, laid out in state law, is set up so voters who have safety concerns about their information being public can have their personal information suppressed. It’s called a request of confidentiality, and you can make one in person with your county clerk by filling out a form and paying a nominal fee.
Here’s the language in the law:
An individual may make the request of confidentiality … if such individual has reason to believe that such individual, or any member of such individual’s immediate family who resides in the same household as such individual, will be exposed to criminal harassment … or otherwise be in danger of bodily harm, if such individual’s address is not kept confidential.
Immediately below the signature line, there shall be printed a notice, in a type that is larger than the other information contained on the form, that the applicant may be prosecuted for perjury in the second degree … if the applicant signs such affirmation and does not believe such affirmation to be true.
According to Amber McReynolds, the director of elections in Denver, law enforcement officers, elected officials, judges, public figures, or those concerned about stalkers, are among those who typically file requests to keep their personal information from public view in their voter files.
“The confidential status is broad,” she says of the profile of Colorado’s confidential voters. “There’s a lot of people who would fall under that.”
Since news broke last week that Williams will turn over what’s already public to Trump’s new voter-fraud commission— and more voters in general learning just how public their own information is already— McReynolds says voters have been calling her office asking what they can do to keep it secret.
“A lot more people are starting to file that,” she told The Colorado Independent about voter confidentiality requests.
McReynolds says if a voter asks for confidentiality because of safety concerns, her office doesn’t investigate the claim or question their reasons.
“There could be all kinds of things that sort of fall under a safety concern,” she says.
In Mesa County, Clerk and Recorder Sheila Reiner says she hasn’t seen a recent uptick in voters wanting confidential status. But during the presidential election she did.
“They didn’t want the phone calls,” she says of voters.
Her office provides anyone who comes into the office asking to become a confidential voter with a form, she says. Doing so costs $5. She said the clerk’s office lets voters know it’s meant for people who fear harassment, adding, “There’s nothing we do to follow up or verify anything.”
Pam Anderson, director of the County Clerks Association in Colorado, says voters should be aware that they are signing an affidavit when they request confidentiality for safety reasons, but it’s not the role of a county clerk’s office to question a voter about those concerns.
The process for becoming a confidential voter in Colorado is fairly quick, she says, and could take effect by the next day barring a busy election cycle.
And while confidential voters likely won’t be getting as much mail from political campaigns once their information is suppressed, they will still get election information from their county.
Says Anderson: “You will still be mailed your ballot.”
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