Maine's Secretary of State assures he will protect voter registration information from Trump administration

By Ramona du Houx

In response to voter concerns regarding a high-profile request from the Trump administration for voter registration information, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap is reminding voters that Maine law protects their information in multiple ways.

On  June 28, 2017, Secretary Dunlap received a letter from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, on behalf of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Secretary Kobach serves as vice chairman on the commission, of which Secretary Dunlap is also a member.

In his letter, Secretary Kobach states: 

“… in order for the Commission to fully analyze vulnerabilities and issues related to voter registration and voting, I am requesting that you provide to the Commission the publicly available voter roll data for Maine, including, if publicly available under the laws of your state, the full first and last names of all registrants, middle names or initials if available, addresses, dates of birth, political party (if recorded in your state), last four digits of social security number if available, voter history (elections voted in) from 2006 onward, active/inactive status, cancelled status, information regarding any felony convictions, information regarding voter registration in another state, information regarding military status, and overseas citizen information. … We would appreciate a response by July 14, 2017. Please be aware that any documents that are submitted to the full Commission will also be made available to the public.” 

On July 3rd, after consulting with Maine's Attorney General Janet Mills, Dunlap made his decision not to release any voter information for the commission's request.

Dunlap was concerned about a clause in the request warning Maine officials that any documents submitted to the full commission would be made available to the public.

“That conflicts with state statute, which states that information contained electronically in the central voter registration system and any information or reports generated by the system are confidential and may only be accessed by municipal and state election officials,” Dunlap said.

“The commission can’t guarantee it won’t be made public. It’s one thing to get the information, but the real question is what do you do with the information after you have it? We want to make sure that we are following the law. By releasing this information, it could have a chilling effect on getting people to register to vote.”

For government use only, Maine law allows the release of the voter's name, year of birth, residence address, mailing address, electoral districts, voter status (active or inactive), date of registration or date of change of the voter record if applicable, voter record number and any special designations indicating uniformed service voters, overseas voters or township voters. This information may not be used for solicitation or for purposes other than their own activities and may not be redistributed.