Voter-data request is target of lawsuits
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?”