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Inside Politics: Idaho should reject federal demand for your voting information

Hello. My name is Sally Toone. I am a registered voter. Period. As far as I’m concerned, that’s all the federal government needs to know about me or you when it comes to voting in Idaho. I don’t know. I’ve been a teacher and rancher all my life, so maybe that viewpoint is a bit naïve. When I meet with Idahoans, I shake their hands, ask their names and listen to what they have to say. I don’t ask if they’re Democrat or Republican. I don’t ask about their voting history over the last 10 years. I sure don’t ask them for the last four digits of their Social Security number or whether they have a criminal record. That’s none of my business. However, the federal government wants to know all of that about you and much, much more. Like I said, maybe I’m naïve, but that’s none of their damn business. I’m Sally Toone. I’m a registered voter. If the federal government wants to know that, I’ll gladly confirm it. But when it comes to my voting rights, that’s all I’m willing to give them.

Like millions of Americans, I was shocked last week when the federal “Election Integrity Commission” demanded that our state officials turn over personal information about hundreds of thousands of Idaho voters. Already more than 20 states have either rejected the demand or pushed back on the Commission. In a letter sent to all 50 states, the Commission demanded the full first and last names of all registrants, middle names or initials, addresses, dates of birth, political party, the last four digits of their social security number, voter history from 2006 onward, active/inactive status, canceled status, information regarding any felony convictions, information regarding voter registration in another state, information regarding military status, and overseas citizen information. Secretaries of state, like Idaho’s Lawerence Denney, have the option of submitting the information electronically.

Mississippi’s secretary of state recently invited the Commission to go jump into the Gulf of Mexico. Our secretary of state should send a similar message. Idaho has a lot of lakes and rivers to choose from.

This demand is problematic on several fronts. First, it’s a blatant federal intrusion into our state voting process and right to privacy. Idahoans value their state’s rights, and they should. Second, the demand is open-ended. The feds won’t say what they intend to do with all of your private information, how they intend to use it, how long they plan to keep it or how it will be secured. Finally, with all of the hacking going on in this country, the feds want to create a centralized database with all of your personal information in one place. I have one question: Are they out of their minds?!

When I heard the news about demands for all of that voter information, I couldn’t help but think of the many instances our own state lawmakers have tried to take your vote away from you. Just this past legislative session, Rep. Dustin Manwaring introduced a bill to suppress early voting in Idaho (HB 150). All House Democrats and more than a dozen House Republicans voted against it. Thankfully, it died in a Senate committee. Hopefully this federal government privacy grab will die a similar death.

This is not a partisan issue. Idaho’s Republicans and Democrats harp on the importance of state’s rights all the time. I would be astonished if our Republican secretary of state goes along with this blatant federal intrusion into our private lives. However, he’s considering it. That’s unacceptable to me, and I know it’s unacceptable to you. That’s why I would encourage you to call your Republican state representatives and senators and tell them you want the feds to keep their hands out of our voting information. We can handle our own elections just fine. We don’t need Washington, D.C., telling us how to vote.

As a state legislator, I am required to reveal certain information about myself to the public that I wouldn’t ordinarily. That’s fine. You have a right to know about me, how I vote and where I stand on issues because you’ve put your trust in me to represent you at the statehouse. However, when I step into the voting booth, I am a citizen of Idaho just like you. My name is Sally Toone. I’m a registered voter. Anything else is none of the feds’ damn business.

Other View: Trump wants us to defend 'our values.' Which ones?

This appeared in Friday’s Washington Post:

“Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost?” President Donald Trump asked during his speech in Warsaw on Thursday. That’s an important question, and so is this: Which values is he summoning us to defend?

There were encouraging elements in his address suggesting that he was referring to the universal values that America celebrated earlier this week, on the anniversary of its declaration of independence. Repeatedly, Trump invoked the parallel Polish and American devotion to freedom. He spoke of “America’s commitment to your security and your place in a strong and democratic Europe.” Unlike during his first trip to Europe as president, he embraced NATO’s Article 5, which binds the United States and its allies to treat an attack on one as an attack on all.

Trump warned against powers that use “propaganda, financial crimes and cyberwarfare” against the United States and its allies- and, in case that wasn’t clear enough, explicitly warned Russia “to cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere and its support for hostile regimes, including Syria and Iran.” He assured his audience, “We treasure the rule of law and protect the right to free speech and free expression.”

Yet elements of his address left doubt as to whether Trump views such values as truly universal. “The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive,” he said. If by “the West” he means anyone embracing the values of human rights, freedom and the dignity of every individual, he may be right. But those are hardly the property of the United States and Europe. They are treasured by the ailing Liu Xiaobo in China, by bloggers fighting for freedom in Uganda and by legislators fighting off the Maduro regime’s thugs in Venezuela. They belong to people of all colors, all sexual orientations and all—or no—religion. When Trump urges “us all to fight like the Poles, for family, for freedom, for country and for God,” does “all” truly mean “all”?

Perhaps what gives the most doubt is that he celebrated “the right to free speech and free expression” without mentioning that the government welcoming him has worked worryingly to narrow those freedoms, along with the independence of its judiciary—and without mentioning that, at home, Trump himself has been far from a tribune of the free press. “Above all,” he said, “we value the dignity of every human life, protect the rights of every person and share the hope of every soul to live in freedom.” Many people will cheer those words—and will watch to see how his administration lives up to them in its interactions with Saudi Arabia and China, Russia and Egypt, and at home.

Other View: All eyes are on Rex Tillerson

July could be a pivotal month for Donald Trump’s presidency and Rex Tillerson’s tenure as secretary of state, to say nothing of American history. Between this week’s Group of 20 meeting, Trump’s highly anticipated encounter with Russian President Vladimir Putin and a new level of threat coming from North Korea, sure-footed, knowledgeable diplomacy is in high demand and more important now than any time since last year’s election.

Generally, I have been a fan of Tillerson. He is an adult in the room and, importantly, seems immune from all the barking that takes place in Washington. Tillerson is steady, is knowledgeable and moves at his own pace. But that pace, or the lack of a faster one, has become a source of criticism.

Washington thinks of itself as so vitally important that empty blocks in the federal bureaucracy’s organization chart can only mean that a vital government function is not being carried out.

I have my doubts.

The truth is, the State Department, like every other executive department, suffers from redundancies and make-work jobs. But there is such a thing as needing good people to do important jobs.

For his part, John J. Sullivan, the recently confirmed deputy secretary of state, is getting good reviews. As per Tillerson’s instruction, Sullivan is already working to reorganize the State Department and empower the best career Foreign Service officers.

In the coming weeks, the Trump administration will soon learn whether the slow pace of filling top political appointments at the State Department is affecting the quality of our diplomacy and the ability to implement and communicate the United States’ foreign policy. We may be about to find out if Trump’s State Department is prepared to manage important international events and potentially historic challenges.

With the whole world watching, this week’s G-20 meeting will set in stone our allies’ opinions of the president and his team; Putin will form his core impression of the president and determine whether Trump is serious or if he can be easily manipulated; and, finally, the president will have to listen to his team’s advice on North Korea, decide on a course of action and then explain it to the world.

Nothing thus far in the Trump presidency has had such downrange consequences as any of these three events. And all eyes are on Tillerson.

Personnel matters aside, Tillerson has won the respect of key world leaders and that of Trump. Considering just how often he and the president speak, it is that much more likely that Trump will defer to his secretary of state and perhaps even suppress some of his own instincts to freelance, ad-lib or, worst of all, recklessly tweet when mature patience is required.

And yet, while Tillerson has performed effectively and maintained the confidence of the president, some of his recent interactions with others in the White House have left wounds that have yet to heal.

It remains to be seen just how long such a dichotomy can last.

So, as the week unfolds, there is a spotlight on Trump, Tillerson and the president’s team. Much is at stake and I cannot remember a time when there was more uncertainty about the dependability and quality of America’s actions, resolve and personnel.

Godspeed, Tillerson.

Letters of Thanks

Kiwanis thanks all involved in Golf Tournament

Thank you for your courtesy publication of announcing the Filer and Kimberly Kiwanis Golf Tournament held on June 10th at the 93 Golf Course in Jerome. The benefit for children in the Magic Valley brings scholarships and help to many young people, which is the main focus of Kiwanis International around the world. A special thanks to the sponsors and golf teams that participated is very helpful in making this tenth event a rewarding experience for all participants.

Someone said it takes a village to raise a child and to paraphrase here, it takes sponsors, golfers, Kiwanians and a purpose to help young people be aided in preparing for life. Thanks to all who made this effort rewarding.

Bob Parish, Steve Cowger, Jan Hall