Dem-NPL leaders call on Secretary of State to ensure protection of personal voter data

(BISMARCK, ND) – Democratic-NPL Chairwoman Kylie Oversen, Senate minority leader Joan Heckaman (New Rockford) and House minority leader Corey Mock (Grand Forks) sent an open letter to Secretary of State Al Jaeger in response to reports that his office is considering handing over personal information about North Dakota voters to a controversial federal commission.

Deputy Secretary of State Jim Silrum previously stated that North Dakota law appeared to prohibit officials from releasing the sensitive information requested by the commission, including names, physical addresses, dates of birth, voting history and political affiliations of North Dakota citizens. 

In their letter, Oversen, Heckaman and Mock write:  

“We believe that providing this information raises serious concerns regarding potential violations of North Dakotans’ privacy and right to participate in elections free from interference […]

“…as you consider whether to comply with all or part of the request, we ask that your foremost concern be the privacy rights of voters in North Dakota. As North Dakotans, we take our privacy very seriously. Our state has a long tradition as the only state without voter registration, and we do not believe this information should be shared without compelling reason and strong assurances that individual privacy will be maintained. At this time, we have seen no compelling reason, nor has any evidence been provided, that would suggest the need to share private information about voters with this federal commission.”

The full letter can be viewed here.

“Above all, this issue is about protecting our right to privacy as North Dakotans and as citizens participating in our system of government,” said Oversen. “The fact that a federal government commission is requesting data from the voter rolls in all fifty states should be concerning to everyone who cares about our right to privacy. The commission is requesting, not only the names and physical addresses of North Dakotans, but also their voting history and party affiliations. Voting is a personal right and responsibility, and no compelling reason whatsoever has been provided for why the federal government needs to compile this information.”