Ohio sends US voter panel links to publicly available data


COLUMBUS — Ohio’s elections chief complied Monday with an information request from a presidential commission on voter fraud by providing a series of web links to publicly available data.

Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted said he withheld voters’ driver’s license and partial Social Security numbers from President Donald Trump’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, as he pledged he would do.

“They didn’t ask for non-public information, and we’re not providing any non-public information,” Husted told The Associated Press. “It’s important for people to know that. Nobody’s private information is being made available.”

A federal judge on Monday denied a Washington-based advocacy group’s request to block the data collection, freeing states to comply. Similar lawsuits are pending in Texas, Florida and New Hampshire.

In a letter to the commission Monday, Husted included links to the state’s online voter database and reports of voter fraud investigations conducted after the 2012, 2014 and 2016 elections. The reviews identified a combined 820 irregularities in years when a combined total of 14.4 million general election votes were cast.

Husted said he told Vice President Mike Pence the letter would be forthcoming when they saw each other at the Ohio Republican Party’s annual dinner Saturday. Pence was the featured speaker at the fundraising event, and Husted spoke as a 2018 candidate for governor.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington filed a lawsuit against the federal advisory commission after the panel asked states last month to provide publicly available data, including registered voters’ names, birthdates and partial Social Security numbers. The group didn’t prevail in its argument that the commission should have completed an assessment of privacy concerns before making the request.

Husted said everything the commission sought from Ohio was already online.

“I think that what we do here is more advanced than what they do in a lot of states,” he said. “I really believe we have a model of access to information, but also at the same time protecting sensitive private information that voters wouldn’t want to have made available. Every state has different rules.”

It was easy and virtually free for Ohio to comply, Husted said.

“All we’re doing is sending them the links that you or any other Ohioan would have access to,” he said.

By Julie Carr Smyth

Associated Press

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