Judge gives green light for election fraud commission to collect states’ voter data

In a blow to opponents of President Trump’s election fraud panel, a federal judge ruled Monday the administration could proceed with requests for states to turn over voter information.

In her decision denying an injunction filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly wrote Trump’s election integrity commission did not qualify as a government agency and was not bound by laws which govern such bodies.

Kollar-Kotelly added the panel’s request included information “routinely released to political officeholders, political parties and the public.”

EPIC had filed suit on the legal basis the commission did not consider the impact of its request concerning privacy issues. Attorneys for EPIC asserted the request should be subject to a privacy impact assessment.

Declaring it a “major victory,” commission vice-chairman and Kansas Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, said in a statement:

“The commission requested this publicly available data as part of its fact-gathering process, which is information that states regularly release to political candidates, political parties and the general public. We look forward to continuing to work with state election leaders to gather information and identify opportunities to improve election integrity.”

EPIC’s Marc Rotenberg responded to the court’s ruling by vowing to seek further judicial recourse.

“The Commission cannot evade privacy obligations by playing a shell game with the nation’s voting records,” he said.

Impaneled in May, the commission’s stated purpose is to “promote fair and honest federal elections.”

Chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, the commission delivered letters to all 50 states in June asking for states to turn over “publicly-available voter roll data,” including:  Name, date of birth, last four Social Security digits and voting history dating back to 2006.

Following the request, some states balked; and some states partially complied, while lawsuits were immediately filed by EPIC and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

A separate case, the ACLU’s litigation seeks to ensure the panel follows established law.

 

[AP] [Politico] [Photo courtesy AP via ABC News]