SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE

Hoosier voters concerned about the sweeping information being requested by the commission investigating alleged voter fraud during the 2016 election have less reason to worry, for now.

Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson said that much of the information requested recently by the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is shielded from public release by state law. Lawson, a member of the commission headed by Vice President Mike Pence, said in a statement that the only publicly available information is voter names, congressional districts and addresses.

No matter the reason for the refusal, we’re happy that Lawson declined to release the information. The request was a fishing expedition that violated the rights of voters.

The commission was established by President Donald Trump in response to his allegations that widespread voter fraud denied him a popular vote victory in the 2016 election. The commission had asked secretaries of state of all 50 states to turn over such data as birth dates, political affiliation and the last four digits of Social Security numbers. In response, election officials in several states — Democratic and Republicans alike — have pushed back against the request, saying that they won’t comply, or can only partially comply.

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, a Republican, said fraud is rare, and “We do not want any federal intervention in our state’s right and responsibility to conduct elections.”

Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, also a Republican, said he hasn’t received the letter yet, but he’s not giving up voter information. “My reply would be: They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico and Mississippi is a great state to launch from,” he said.

Although the statement by Lawson didn’t object to the request itself, it should reassure Indiana voters that state law protects the release of such personal information.

Too bad there’s no protection against the validation of unsupported claims that millions of fraudulent votes were cast in last year’s election. There hasn’t been a shred of information supporting the claim about widespread voter fraud. Violation of voter privacy is a serious concern — and in this case, it’s all in the cause of a politically motivated exercise.

Much like restrictive voter ID laws, the commission is exploring solutions to a problem that’s virtually nonexistent.

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to dr-editorial@ greenfieldreporter.com.