Some voters un-registering following Trump administration's data requests

Javier Howell
July 13, 2017

"The executive order does not empower the Presidential Advisory Commission to amass and centralize a federal database of voters and then publicize it", the lawsuit says, referring to a directive issued by President Donald Trump setting up the panel.

The commission was established by Trump in May to investigate supposed voter fraud in the United States, after Trump repeatedly made false claims that he lost the popular vote in the 2016 election due to "millions" of cases of illegal voting.

The privacy center's lawsuit, filed on July 3, charges that the commission is seeking to make an "unprecedented collection of state voter data" gathered through a non-secure method to be made public without first assessing the impact on personal privacy as required by law.

Experts have also accused the commission of violating the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980, which requires federal agencies to publicly explain their intentions and give advance notice whenever they send an information request to the states.

Meanwhile, fears about data breaches and identity theft - or flat-out aversion to what many perceive as a Big Brother-ish information gathering activity - continued even as a representative of the commission on Monday told state officials not to provide the voter data previously requested.

If the President wanted to look at the voter rolls and registration of every American, why won't he show the public his own documents related to the Commission, Ho asked.

The lawsuit identifies four of the first six Trump appointees - New Hampshire secretary of state Bill Gardner, former OH secretary of state Ken Blackwell, commissioner of the Election Assistance Commission Christy McCormick and Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach - as having previously exaggerated voter fraud claims or having supported polices that have disenfranchised voters.

Kristin Mavromatis from the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections said North Carolina was only planning on handing over voter information that was already public, and now will do nothing. The government wants to make all of the data public.

But the plaintiffs in the lawsuits say turning those numbers over as the commission has requested could violate voters' privacy, putting voters at risk. The driving force appears to be Trump's enduring frustration over his 2016 popular-vote loss by three million ballots to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. He has not divulged how the commission would use - or protect - that sensitive information, which includes names, addresses, birth dates, political affiliation, and voting history.

The commission now faces a string of other lawsuits concerning transparency and privacy. Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Alabama's secretary of state said in a phone interview from a National Association of Secretaries of State convention that his office will not provide any voter data to the president's Federal Advisory Commission.

By the end of the week almost every state had refused the request in some fashion. She said the secretary of state's office had been receiving more complaints than usual after news of the commission's request broke.

The commission had directed states to submit their data through a Department of Defense website, which EPIC said in an amended complaint late Friday was not authorized to collect personal information from the general public.

Kobach last week labeled news accounts of the states' pushback against the sweeping request as more "fake news", echoing Trump in the ongoing war of words with much of the mainstream news media.

Several studies have shown that - contrary to what Trump thinks - widespread voter fraud does not exist.

Other reports by Insurance News

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