By Alex Roarty
Top officials in the Democratic National Committee are worried about a sudden drop in voter registrations in Colorado, concerned that President Donald Trump's new election commission is encouraging Democrats across the country to remove themselves from the electoral grid for fear of revealing personal information to the GOP leadership.
Led by DNC Chairman Tom Perez, they've begun an effort _in conjunction with the Colorado Democratic Party _to persuade other members of the party's rank-and-file to stay registered.
"If you unregister, you are giving a victory to proponents of voter suppression," Perez said in an interview with McClatchy.
Denying the GOP a victory on this issue, he said, is the party's new rallying cry.
"That's our message," Perez said. "And we're out there delivering that message in every way possible."
More than 3,000 Colorado voters have unregistered since Trump's Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity requested personal data on voters in late June, according to the Colorado secretary of state's office. The commission, created to investigate alleged voter fraud in states across the country, drew bipartisan backlash this month with its request, with officials in both parties declining to provide the information out of concern for voters' privacy.
The Colorado voters who withdrew their registration represent less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the state's total number of registered voters, said officials with the Colorado secretary of state's office. And Democratic officials say they haven't seen widespread examples of voters revoking their registration in other states.
But to Perez, the case in Colorado is an example of the Trump-created commission trying to make it more difficult to vote. He and other Democrats have accused the group of laying the groundwork for Republican-led efforts that would make voting more difficult. (Trump has said, without evidence, that 3 million to 5 million men and women voted illegally in the last election. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million.)
"The commission has nothing to do with election integrity and everything to do with voter suppression," Perez said.
The chairman said the DNC is working closely with the Colorado Democratic Party to spread the word to voters not to unregister. It's part of a broader effort from the DNC to offer more support to state parties: The committee last week announced a new initiative to funnel more money to them as well as hiring additional staff to offer support.
"What we're seeing in Colorado, we hope that doesn't spread elsewhere," said one DNC official. "That's why we're working on educating voters across the country about this. We're not trying to incite panic, but the DNC itself is monitoring this situation and is concerned by what we're seeing."
Kris Kobach, the Republican secretary of state in Kansas and vice chairman of Trump's commission, dismissed concerns about voters withdrawing their registration.
"It could be a number of things," he said, according to Breitbart. "It could be, actually, people who are not qualified to vote, perhaps someone who is a felon and is disqualified that way, or someone who is not a U.S. citizen saying, 'I'm withdrawing my voter registration because I am not able to vote.' It could be a political stunt _ people who are trying to discredit the Commission and withdrawing temporarily because they are politically active but planning to get back on the voter rolls before the election next November."
(c)2017 McClatchy Washington Bureau