In emails obtained by ND xPlains, it is clear the Secretary of State, and his Deputy Secretary really wants to give your information to Trump’s voting commission. The emails between office staff seem to contrast their earlier public comments. The revelations follow a month of uncertainty as to whether or not the SOS changed its initial stance and would comply with the federal request.
You’ll recall the SOS came out early and said ND state law likely prohibits them from providing the federal commission voter information. Then on August 4th, the SOS said they were re-evaluating state law and may provide the information after all. In an August 8th email from Secretary Al Jaeger, a settlement in New Hampshire was referenced. “I wonder if the experience in NH has any benefit to our situation and the release of information.” Jaeger sent Deputy Secretary Jim Silrum and Elections Director John Arnold. “Benefit” to whose “situation?” The NH settlement, “allowed Secretary of State Bill Gardner to share scanned, unsearchable copies of local voter checklists from all wards across the state— not the larger, digitized version of that information that is collected in the central statewide voter database.” Jaeger wonders if this loophole may work in ND.
The voter information that would potentially be sent by the SOS is the voter’s name, voter history, and date of birth. Deputy Secretary Silrum said in an emailed response to Jaeger’s NH question the date of birth would be necessary, “for the sake of the matching that the Commission intends.” Without the date of birth, how would the Commission be able to distinguish one John Doe from the other John Doe?
Here is where it gets a little more frustrating. The email exchanges show the SOS staff’s annoyance with the public’s push back on this topic. Below is Deputy Secretary Silrum’s email to Jaeger presumably after members of the public asked for their information not to be shared.
What does Silrum believe will be revealed by providing this voter information to the federal government? Does he believe there was rampant voter fraud or illegal votes in North Dakota? If he believes that, does Silrum question the legitimacy of the 2016 election results? Does he doubt the integrity of the work done by the Secretary of State and election officials across the state?
Silrum takes it a step further in at least one instance when someone contacted their office not wanting their information to be shared. He tried to look them up on the Central Voter File. “I say supposedly because I can’t find either of their voter records in the CVF.” Supposedly, Silrum looked up this particular family’s records because they spelled Bismarck wrong. He suspected some of the contacts they were receiving in opposition might not be North Dakota residents. But, how do we know he has not looked up the voting history of other North Dakota residents who have contacted him in opposition? Is he only looking up individuals to verify residency or searching for something more that may change his personal opinion as to the motives of people’s frustration?
It’s obvious the SOS wants to send voter information to Trump’s voting commission. They’ve actively sought ways to comply with the federal request and get around ND state law. That state law may be the only barrier we have at the moment. A conservative friend of mine joked that President Trump was coming to North Dakota tomorrow to “pry that voter data from Al Jaeger’s hands personally.” Well, it appears Jaeger would be eager to have a manila folder full of scanned copies of your information ready to hand over once Air Force One touches down in Bismarck. I’ll update readers when the SOS makes its final decision public.