Cegavske threatens privacy

Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach is kind of crazy when it comes to the subject of widespread voter fraud at polling places. He claims, “Not in Kansas, but if you take some of the really big states like California, Texas—some of the states that have a large alien population—you could have more than a million votes that were not legitimate.” He says in his own state, as many as 18,000 illegal voters are registered. How many has he convicted? Nine.

The New York Times calls him “The Man Behind Trump’s Voter-Fraud Obsession.”

Kobach doesn’t believe any of what he says, of course. Like many Republicans, he knows there is virtually no polling place fraud. If fraud happens, it happens in the counting end, not at the polling place.

So he keeps raising the “threat” because it’s a good way to get voter identification requirements enacted, to help Republicans win elections. People without identification tend to be Democrats voters—senior citizens, minority citizens. Kobach wants his party to win elections with bureaucracy that it cannot win at the polls. Not surprisingly, Donald Trump named him to co-chair a voter fraud study commission. And Kris Kobach refuses to submit some voter registration information to that study commission!

Yet Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske is planning to hand “only the publicly available“ information on Nevadans over to the commission.

Cybersecurity experts say publicly available information, when loaded into a single central source, is the problem, and would be a threat to the rights and privacy of citizens. Barbara Cegavske does not agree.

Maryland officials called the request for voter registration records “repugnant” and refused. Virginia’s governor called it a “violation of citizens privacy rights” and, along with 20 other states, refused. Not Barbara Cegavske.

There have been repeated national studies showing polling place fraud is less common than deaths by lightning strikes. But Republican officials like Kobach and Cegavske are determined to keep this fake news story going for partisan advantage. As a member of the Nevada Legislature, Cegavske introduced voter identification requirements (“A solution without a problem,” RN&R, March 29. 2007) but when she became secretary of state she did not initially revive that effort, probably because one of her staffers then was former Carson City clerk Alan Glover, who knew how freakishly rare the problem is (“The fraud of voter fraud,” RN&R. Oct. 25, 2012).

Now she has a chance to go around state law and help federalize the problem and is using the records of Nevadans—including their social security numbers—as her battering ram.

Why are social security numbers obtained from voters in the first place? The secretary of state prescribes the form Nevada county clerks and registrars must use. Why should anyone have to submit their social security numbers to vote? The truth is, they don’t. Legally, providing the number is optional, which the form fails to disclose.

Cegavske needs to start protecting Nevadans instead of the GOP—first by refusing the Trump commission’s request, then by removing the SSN box from the voter registration form.