(Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM)
New Jersey lawmakers have introduced bills that would prohibit the state from providing the Trump administration’s “Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity” with any information about the state’s voters that is not already publicly available.
The bills—A-5140, sponsored by Assemblyman Jamel Holley, and S-3423, sponsored by Sen. Raymond Lesniak, both D-Union—were introduced earlier this week but have not been scheduled for committee hearings.
Trump created the commission in May after claiming that there were millions of illegal votes cast in the 2016 presidential election, in which Democrat Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes.
Forty-four states and the District of Columbia have so far refused to provide the commission with information that is not already available to the public.
Those refusals prompted Trump to go to Twitter and complain that the states were refusing to provide information to the “very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL,” and accusing them of trying to “hide” information.
The information the commission is seeking includes registrants’ full names, addresses, dates of birth, political parties, the last four digits of their Social Security numbers, a list of the elections they voted in since 2006, information on any felony convictions, information on whether they were registered to vote in other states, their military status, and whether they lived overseas.
The New Jersey director of elections, Robert Giles, has notified the Trump administration that it will not at present provide voter information that is not publicly available, but opponents of the commission fear that it will use the Open Public Records Act to attempt to obtain information that normally would be confidential.
“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,” Holley said in a statement. “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 legislation, called 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 driver’s license number or permit number of a voter contained in the state’s voter registration system.
“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,” Holley added. “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.”
Brian Murray, a spokesman for the Christie administration, said the governor’s office would not comment on pending legislation.
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