Congressman Jim Cooper

Representing the 5th District of Tennessee
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Cooper Urges Return to Voter Privacy

Jul 7, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Amid Trump administration calls for voter data – including Social Security numbers – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) today urged Americans to demand a return to “the secret ballot” so personal privacy is protected and election integrity is preserved.

“People need confidence that their vote matters. But a dirty secret is we’ve lost ‘the secret ballot’ in America,” Rep. Cooper said. “No party could gerrymander unless they knew how people are going to vote. That is a real loss of privacy, and everyone should be deeply concerned. Political parties know everything about you, but your vote is nobody’s business.”

Rep. Cooper’s remarks came as the National Association of Secretaries of State begins its summer conference today. Most states – at least 44, according to one tally – declined to provide the voter data recently requested by President Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Despite that setback, the Department of Justice asked Tennessee officials this week for information on how the state purges people from voter rolls.

A longtime advocate for redistricting reform, Rep. Cooper has said the lack of a “secret ballot” is a crucial reason why politicians are reluctant to change the process in any meaningful way.

Both political parties already have access to plentiful voter information, and it is used to target specific voters during election season; the same data is used each decade when legislators are reshaping their districts, leading to the rampant gerrymandering seen today. Even in states where party registration is not required to vote – such as Tennessee – public databases identify exactly which party voters choose when participating in primary elections.

“Americans think their votes are secret,” Rep. Cooper said. “They are not. They should be.”