Saturday, October 11, 2008

Federal Appeals Court: Nothing Here, Move Along

A federal appeals court has reversed a lower court's ruling and Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner will no longer be required to provide county boards of elections lists of voters who registered but who's personal information doesn't match known values:
The three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Brunner is not required to provide county elections boards with the names of voters whose personal information does not match state motor-vehicle or federal Social Security records, as ordered Thursday by U.S. District Court Judge George C. Smith of Columbus.
What's amazing is how trivial this request would be to perform. The information is stored in the state's database.
Q. How are new voter registrations checked in Ohio?
A. Counties enter the information from new voters into their computer systems, and it is uploaded to a state database to check for duplicates
from other counties.
The personal information also is matched against state motor-vehicle and federal Social Security records.
Q. What if the motor-vehicle and Social Security records don't match the voter registration?
A. A notation is made on the voter's record in the state database, but counties are not sent a list of mismatches and can only access them by reviewing voter records one by one in the database. An appeals court is reviewing a judge's order that the counties must be given a list of the mismatches.
Brunner's office already makes a subset of this database available on it's website in a common format that can be easily loaded into databases for analysis. In fact, it is this subset that I have been analyzing for the last week. To perform the additional mismatch analysis requested, it would be necessary to add a single Yes/No indicator to the format of the file already being provided. This should be trivial.

Brunner appears to be purposely hiding information.

I am currently preparing to file a Freedom of Information Act request with Brunner's office to get access to this information.

Maybe the court is right, there is nothing to see here. But it would be nice to be able to look and confirm.