When voting fraud as a crime is almost vanishingly rare, but concern about the privacy of databases is rife, Louisiana is right to stand up to a sweeping federal request for personal data about our voters.
Secretary of State Tom Schedler said he won't give President Donald Trump's voting commission the private voter identification information it requested.
Instead, the state's chief elections officer said that the commissioners can have the limited public information about voters that is available to anyone under Louisiana law — but like everyone else, they will have to pay for the list.
Additional data sought by the Trump commission, including partial Social Security numbers and birth dates, will be kept private and protected, Schedler said.
We think Schedler is right, and note that Louisiana is joined by many other states in a bipartisan effort to block the broad request for data from the commission. No state election official planned to provide the commission with all of the information requested, according to an Associated Press survey of individual state responses.
"The president's commission has quickly politicized its work by asking states for an incredible amount of voter data that I have, time and time again, refused to release," Schedler said in a statement. "My response to the commission is, 'You're not going to play politics with Louisiana's voter data.'"
The voter lists available for purchase in Louisiana include names, addresses, party registration and voter histories that show who voted, but not how they voted, said Schedler spokeswoman Meg Casper Sunstrom.
Schedler, a Republican, noted that he has resisted similar requests during President Barack Obama's administration, when the former administration was probing states' compliance with federal voter registration laws.
We would be happier if the federal government had something legitimate to investigate in these matters, but the fact is that the new Trump commission is acting on the president's unproven assertions that voter fraud is widespread in the United States.
Schedler has defended Louisiana's elections system, saying the state didn't have any widespread irregularities or allegations of fraud during the presidential election.
We hope that officials are not cowed by presidential displeasure on Twitter. On Saturday, Trump tweeted: "Numerous states are refusing to give information to the very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL. What are they trying to hide?"
If the president talked to ordinary voters, he would hear that they are much more concerned about hacking and other unauthorized breaches of privacy. As Schedler says, "disclosure of such sensitive information is more likely to diminish voter participation rather than foster it."
Almost no one believes assertions of massive election fraud, in these days of voting machines and Louisiana's sensible law requiring a photo ID at the polls. Trump, however, seems obsessed with the topic, perhaps because of some concern about the legitimacy of his election with far fewer votes than his Democratic rival last year.
The president should calm down. The commission, if it wants to justify its existence, should focus on real problems in the elections system instead of vacuuming personal data into Washington.