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Voter Roll Research: Advisory Against In-Person Canvassing.

oter Roll Research: Advisory Against In-Person Canvassing.

September 3, 2023

Voter Roll Research: Advisory Against In-Person Canvassing. Author: Velma Anne Ruth, M.Ed., President, Rule of Law Committee (501c4) and President, Civil Rights Institute (501c3) We are frequently approached with questions and concerns over voter roll research, and best practices for localized corrective efforts, in our growing nationwide network through Election Integrity Task Force, and have been providing in-person and virtual seminars and direct assistance to those constituents pursuing efforts in their own communities.

In discussions I always hold firm, and strictly advise against the use of in-person canvassing for voter roll research for the following reasons. This is not to say that the work everyone nationally has done to date is not valuable, rather that findings of grassroots volunteers to date require much more advanced and higher-level of professional protocols in order to be effective. In fact, those who come to us with initial findings are fully embraced, and supported to specifically take their work to the next level. In some cases, this means acquiring updated voter roll data, and starting from scratch, but utilizing past data as a guide to determine possible issues.


Save American Democracy

This advisory is increasingly more timely, as state and local governments are advancing their policies for public safety purposes and to protect the integrity of voter roll data for electoral administration purposes, for better or worse. These days, there are plenty of online sources to utilize in double-checking voter rolls for campaigns and other purposes, to determine the viability of the voter roll data, before utilizing for lawful purposes. So with all the reasons below, there should be no need for the application of in-person canvassing for voter roll research. ADVISORY:

1. PUBLIC SAFETY. In a time when 100,000s of undocumented migrants are crossing U.S. Borders and many becoming registered to vote, on top of the undocumented migrants who are already in the United States and on the voter rolls, the general public must be aware of the very real Cartel and human-trafficking related risk that is directly tied to illegal immigration. If for nothing else, investigative door knocking to find out the name, address, and voting status of an individual, is very high-risk to be met with uncertain backlash. The risk is greatest in any State, County, or City which is giving Sanctuary for Undocumented Migrants.

2. LAWFUL USE OF VOTER ROLLS. Typically voter roll data is provided for the explicit purpose of political campaigns, get out the vote, and related forward-moving activity. States and counties are now intensifying laws to assure that voter roll data is not utilized for any purpose other than these efforts, and, that voters or voter of record are not to be contacted for investigative purposes. As President of Rule of Law Committee (501c4) and President of Civil Rights Institute (501c3), I fully agree with law abiding behavior only, and explicitly, overtly, repeatedly advise against any activist being in direct contact with any voter or purported voter on the voter rolls.

3. DO NOT CONTACT VOTERS TO INVESTIGATE THEM IF YOU ARE NOT A LICENSED PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR, IF YOU ARE NOT AN AUTHORIZED GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL, IF YOU ARE NOT AN AUTHORIZED MEMBER OF LAW ENFORCEMENT, CONSTABLE, OR OTHERWISE. Most voters assume that if they leave a state, get married, die, etc. that the system will take care of itself. There are plenty of initiatives on both sides of the aisle with regards to these continued challenges.


This is the responsibility of government officials to rectify, in as much as resources may or may not be available to them to make corrections and maintain records in a thorough and timely fashion. We are receiving reports that grassroots are being directed to be in contact with people who have moved out of state, and directing those voters to make corrections to the voter rolls in their home state. T


This is highly time consuming and expensive for a volunteer, has proven time-and-time again to be completely ineffective, and is absolutely not their job. Again, it is the responsibility of Government to make these corrections and communicate with the voter. We have also received reports that PRIVACY has been violated, and TRESPASSING has been conducted by grassroots volunteers in order to investigate voters in-person. Again, I explicitly and consistently advise against these practices, which are unnecessary, and high-risk.

4. RESPECT SENSITIVE VOTER DATA. "Sensitive" data as multiple categories and a host of rules which are fully enforced throughout multiple professional sectors, in order to protect the privacy and the safety tied to the given individual. This is a matter of professionalism, lawfulness, and frankly, candor.

Defined: Selected Common data privacy acronyms

PII - Personally Identifiable Information PI - Personal Information SPI - Sensitive Personal Information NPI - Nonpublic Personal Information MNPI - Material Nonpublic Information

In official rules (regulations, laws, guidelines, procedures) there are specific directions as to how - and how NOT - to handle personal identifiers and sensitive information. Names, Addresses, Phone Numbers, Emails, Dates of Birth, Voter Records, these are all highly sensitive with a host of rules that govern if/how the information is used. Those rules are explicitly "intended" to "protect" the individual identified.

We are aware of countless public websites that expose voter data as a third party search tool, with the "intention" to protect individuals rights to protect their voting records, and viability of the voter rolls. However, it is these third-party tools that are very high-risk for over-exposing personal information to potential bad actors, such as identity thieves or otherwise. Therefore, I explicitly, overtly, repeatedly advise AGAINST utilizing any of those websites.

If you are dealing with voter data for any purpose in your county or state, it is imperative to be fully aware of, and explicitly COMPLIANT to the rules that govern access and usage of voter data in your county and state. Please see the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) for initial guidance in your state.

5. WORK WITH YOUR LOCAL COUNTY AND/OR STATE OFFICIALS. We have received 100,000s of reports on voter records who are "suspected" of being incorrect and invalid, having many categories (i.e., moved, change of name, deceased, other). 1000s of volunteers have worked very diligently to research and determine any possible invalid records that are within their county and state voter roll systems. While I understand the "intent", and am also aware of the extensive litigation surrounding some of these volunteers efforts, it is also frequent that Counties and States do not necessarily have the manpower nor resources (nor priority in some cases) to be able to research these claims and/or make direction. Say for example, you are a volunteer in a political campaign, and you are asked to canvass in order to promote the given candidate, and/or you are registering people to vote, which most often is entirely lawful.

In most cases, volunteers for political campaigns are ALSO researching the voter rolls for viability, around said political and GOTV canvassing.

It is in my opinion, that due diligence is important before conducting any outreach campaign.

However, it is also in my opinion that any findings as subject to that due diligence, which may present a conflict between the government record and other official records, are best presented to the government agency providing the original voter data - AND NOT TO THE VOTER OF RECORD HIS/HERSELF. I could go on. Those who know me, my professional background is in: Criminal Justice, Diplomacy, Advocacy, Human Rights, Civil Rights, Finance, Compliance, Administration, Marketing, Research, and DATA MANAGEMENT, both domestically and around the world. For my career, I work with and for countless attorneys and am in communications with countless government offices at any given time. Every day that goes by, our communities and streets are less safe, and our most trusted law enforcement are also gravely embattled.

Election integrity is tantamount to preserving our rights as U.S. Citizens to elect those public servants who will best represent us as constituents in our local communities.

BUT THIS IS NOT AN EXCUSE FOR INAPPROPRIATE, UNLAWFUL AND NON-COMPLIANT BEHAVIOR - AND WILL NOT BE TOLERATED. For any questions about the rules and regulations in your county or state, I strongly urge you to find out what the policies are from your local government officials and/or online.

This is a virtual world in an information age. There is no reason to have to breach any county or state policy to seek out answers to your questions and concerns. Respectfully Submitted, Velma Anne Ruth, M.Ed. President, Rule of Law Committee (501c4) President, Civil Rights Institute (501c3)


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