Voter-data re­quest is tar­get of law­suits

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NEWS - In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Holly Ramer and Ge­off Mul­vi­hill of The As­so­ci­ated Press and by An­drew Har­ris of Bloomberg News.

CON­CORD, N.H. — Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s com­mis­sion on elec­tion fraud is fac­ing fur­ther push-back in the form of law­suits seek­ing to block the col­lec­tion of de­tailed voter in­for­ma­tion.

In New Hamp­shire, a Demo­cratic se­na­tor, a Repub­li­can rep­re­sen­ta­tive and the lo­cal Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union chap­ter on Thurs­day sued Sec­re­tary of State Bill Gard­ner.

Gard­ner is a mem­ber of Trump’s Pres­i­den­tial Ad­vi­sory Com­mis­sion on Elec­tion In­tegrity. He plans to sub­mit some of the re­quested in­for­ma­tion. He says do­ing so is le­gal, but the law­suit ar­gues that such data can be shared only in spe­cific sit­u­a­tions.

The Wash­ing­ton-based Elec­tronic Pri­vacy In­for­ma­tion Cen­ter also filed a law­suit this week ar­gu­ing that the com­mis­sion should have com­pleted an as­sess­ment of pri­vacy con­cerns be­fore mak­ing the re­quest.

In a court fil­ing Wed­nes­day, the com­mis­sion said there’s noth­ing wrong with one govern­ment en­tity shar­ing pub­lic in­for­ma­tion with an­other.

The Elec­tronic Pri­vacy In­for­ma­tion Cen­ter is seek­ing a fed­eral court or­der block­ing the panel’s col­lec­tion of the in­for­ma­tion un­til it com­plies. The cen­ter pressed its ar­gu­ment in pa­pers filed Thurs­day, re­spond­ing to the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s claim that the re­quest doesn’t harm pri­vacy be­cause it seeks only pub­licly avail­able data. The group’s law­suit was filed Mon­day.

“The com­mis­sion has asked state elec­tion of­fi­cials to trans­fer mas­sive amounts of sen­si­tive per­sonal data, pro­tected by state pri­vacy law, to an in­se­cure web­site with­out au­then­ti­ca­tion,” at­tor­neys for the or­ga­ni­za­tion said. “It is dif­fi­cult to con­struct an ex­am­ple of ‘ir­repara­ble harm’ that is more self-ev­i­dent.”

The case is Elec­tronic Pri­vacy In­for­ma­tion Cen­ter v. Pres­i­den­tial Ad­vi­sory Com­mis­sion on Elec­tion In­tegrity.

Trump cre­ated the com­mis­sion by ex­ec­u­tive or­der on May 11, fol­low­ing through on his as­ser­tion that voter fraud skewed the pop­u­lar vote in last year’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, en­abling Demo­cratic ri­val Hil­lary Clin­ton to ac­crue al­most 3 mil­lion more votes, even as he pre­vailed in the Elec­toral Col­lege.

While the panel chair­man is Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence, its pub­lic face has been Vice Chair­man Kris Kobach, who is also Kansas sec­re­tary of state. Ear­lier Thurs­day, Kobach listed the names of other com­mis­sion mem­bers in a court fil­ing re­quested by U.S. District Judge Colleen Kol­lar-Kotelly.

In a let­ter last week, Kobach asked pub­lic of­fi­cials in 50 states and the District of Columbia to pro­duce the in­for­ma­tion where per­mis­si­ble and of­fer in­put on mak­ing elec­tion tech­nol­ogy more se­cure while si­mul­ta­ne­ously avoid­ing dis­en­fran­chise­ment. He also asked for post-2000 elec­tion-re­lated crime data.

His re­quest en­coun­tered im­me­di­ate re­sis­tance as sev­eral states cat­e­gor­i­cally re­fused to com­ply while others said they’d only re­spond in part, prompt­ing an an­gry re­tort from the pres­i­dent.

“Nu­mer­ous states are re­fus­ing to give in­for­ma­tion to the very dis­tin­guished VOTER FRAUD PANEL,” Trump said in a Satur­day tweet. “What are they try­ing to hide?”

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