Many states have laws barring the release of even partial Social Security numbers or birth dates, because of their propensity to be used for identity theft. When Georgia accidentally released full Social Security numbers on CDs containing otherwise public voter data in 2015 — the so-called Peach Breach — the public was appalled. In another instance, Ohio released the Social Security numbers of at least 5.7 million voters — 80 percent of the state’s electorate — because the secretary of state’s office failed to remove them from public data requests. The Ohio secretary of state at that time was J. Kenneth Blackwell, a member of the commission making the current requests.
Many Democratic secretaries of state are resisting because they believe the commission is laying the groundwork for restrictions that will mostly make it harder for traditionally Democratic constituencies — minorities, young people and the poor — to cast ballots. Even the drafters of the Constitution could not agree on nationwide rules for casting votes. For Republicans in particular, the resentment has only increased since the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 and the National Voter Registration Act — the motor-voter law — in 1993.