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Follow VPR's statehouse coverage, featuring Pete Hirschfeld and Bob Kinzel in our Statehouse Bureau in Montpelier.

House Lawmakers Vote To Conceal Voter Data From Feds

Legislation introduced in both the House and Senate would increase the proportion of education resources going to districts with economically disadvantaged students.
Angela Evancie
VPR File
Some Vermont House lawmakers say they're worried the federal government will use state voter data to remove citizens from elections rolls.

House lawmakers have advanced a bill that would prevent the state from handing over voter data to the federal government.

Vermont was one of the states last year that refused to give its voter data to President Donald Trump’s Commission on Election Integrity.

The president disbanded the commission earlier this year, but Wilmington Rep. John Gannon says legislation approved by the House on Thursday will protect the secretary of state from similar requests in the future.

“A lot of individuals across the United States could have their information stolen, and I think that’s the biggest worry here, is putting it all into a single database,” Gannon says.

Many House Democrats were also worried about the federal government improperly using citizens’ data to purge them from the voter checklist — the Trump commission said it wanted the data to review possible cases of voter fraud.

Critics of the measure say it will do little to protect voters’ personal information, since the data will still be publicly available to individuals, nonprofits and political parties. And they said it’s inappropriate to hide that information from federal government agencies.

“We trust a third party to look at the accuracy of voter [data], but not our own government,” Chittenden Rep. Jim Harrison says. “I’m really, really struggling to reconcile that.”

The legislation is up for final approval in the House on Friday. It heads next to the Senate for that chamber's consideration.

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