I forwarded a Sunshine request to Robin Carnahan's office on February 1st concerning the number of Missouri voters registered and rejected through the Department of Social Services from August 2008-August 2009. I was trying to backtrack on data that I had from this Project Vote report.
It's interesting, because Project Vote claims a success based on the number of registrations. The data is pretty wacky.
Keep in mind 2008 was a recession year - more people were seeking assistance as unemployment steadily rose in the face of a fiscal catastrophe. And second, the desire to register was at an all time high for African American voters, many of who were hit very hard by the gap in employment.
Is the Project Vote case study accurate? That's what I'm trying to determine. In addition to registrations, there is the question of double registering and rejected applications.
112,590 registrations, but how many were already registered, and how many were rejected (say if the person getting assistance was not a legal resident).
Voter registrations are required to be forwarded to the Secretary of State's office. Failure to do so was one of the big complaints of the ACORN/ProVote lawsuit.
So I forwarded a request, asking for the same numbers as those provided in the Project Vote report.
Here is the response I received from the Secretary of State's office after 21 days of exploration.
This is not acceptable. Does the Secretary of State's office not have registration information? If so, how did Project Vote get it? Are they playing word games? I have a lot of documents showing a pretty cozy relationship between SoS staffers and Project Vote data hounds in 2007, including charts, breakdowns by county, and explanations in detail. Project Vote didn't have to go through other departments to get these numbers. Why exactly am I being told there is no information? Are we to believe the Secretary of State doesn't know how many voters we had in 2008 and 2009? That's strange, seeing as she was quite confident providing charts of voters that would be unable to vote because of Voter ID. Here's her press release in 2008 claiming 240,000 voters could lose their franchise. Here's the press release in 2009, claiming 230,000 voters could lose their franchise. One - isn't it great news that up to 10,000 Missourians got around to getting their photo ID? And second if the Secretary of State is confident enought to put out a press release listing those who can't vote, surely someone in that office has the information they are legally obligated to provide to the public.
I've been stalled by the Governor's office before, but this is the first time I sense that I've been stalled by the Secretary of State's office. I've responded to the email, and anxiously await a response. This post has been published because I want to make it clear that stalling is a story in its own right. Considering the level of intimacy Carnahan's staff has with lawyers outside the state of Missouri who sued us to enforce their version of the NVRA, you would think I could get at least the same level of courtesy in getting that data.
I'm not giving up, and the full story is coming out on these pages.
Update: Looking back through my notes, I see there is actually a second Sunshine request that was rejected because there were no documents. I asked for the number of voter registration forms provided by the Secretary of State since the July 2008 order in ACORN V. Scott. The request was based on a similar request by the ACORN lawyers for documents going back to 1995. They were delivered in a short time span to make a trial date for the preliminary injunction, after in-person meetings and emails with Carnahan's staff.
It is not credible that document available in a rush for ACORN lawyers in 2008 don't exist in 2010. I've requested a second explanation and will update this blog post with the results.