Court weighs dispute over online publication of voting records | Fremont Tribune – Government and Politics

By MORGAN LEE – Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (AP) — A conservative-backed foundation that aims to publish online voter registration records across the country urged a federal judge on Tuesday to overrule objections from New Mexico election regulators who say the initiative violates state law and would discourage people from registering to vote out of privacy concerns. The website does not list details of how people voted for candidates or initiatives.

The Voter Reference Foundation has published voter lists for at least 20 states that can be searched by name or address to check where people live and see if they voted in various past elections.

A companion website highlights the difference between the number of ballots according to certified election results and the number of people listed as having voted on the registration lists at various points in time as the local registrations are added and purged.

Eddie Greim, attorney for the Voter Reference Foundation, has urged a federal judge to step in and ensure voter rolls can be published online to ensure direct accountability and allow people to verify the accuracy of most voter registrations. entry submitted by others.

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“The point of all of this is for voters to take control of their own records and become accountable,” Greim said during a hearing Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Albuquerque. New Mexico voters can already search for their own registration online by providing a date of birth.

Election regulators in New Mexico say the unprecedented efforts flout state laws that limit the acquisition and sharing of voter rolls to government activities and political campaigns.

In December, Democratic Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver referred the group’s efforts for possible prosecution to the state attorney general. No charges have been filed.

On Tuesday, an attorney representing the secretary of state’s office warned that many residents will be hesitant or unwilling to register to vote if they know the required personal information is openly distributed.

“People just won’t register if they think we’ll sell their data or make it available to the world,” said Olga Serafimova, attorney general and secretary of state. “The system will collapse.”

She said election regulators in several states see flaws in the foundation’s methodology for highlighting “discrepancies” between Election Day vote tallies and registration records that are continually updated.

Tuesday’s hearing included testimony from Voter Reference Foundation Executive Director Gina Swoboda, a former official in the office of the Arizona Secretary of State and New Mexico State Chief Electoral Officer.

Federal District Court Judge James Browning peppered the attorneys with questions and said the hearing would be extended another day to allow for more testimony. He took no further immediate action.

The Voter Reference Foundation, created by former Republican Senate candidate Doug Truax of Illinois, removed New Mexico registration records from its website in March and filed a lawsuit arguing that restrictions on state over voter registration data violates the free speech guarantees of the US Constitution.

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Jacob L. Thornton