A privacy advocacy group sued to block President Donald Trump’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity from collecting voter information across the U.S.
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach — the commission’s vice chairman and most public face — has asked all 50 states to submit data on all their registered voters, including names, addresses, birth dates, political party affiliations if available, records of elections in which they’ve participated, plus the last four digits of their social security numbers.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center, in a complaint filed Monday at a U.S. court in Washington, said the commission failed to first conduct a mandatory privacy impact assessment, without which its actions are unlawful and unconstitutional.
The center accused the commission of “seeking to assemble an unnecessary and excessive federal database of sensitive voter data from state record systems.” That’s a violation of “the informational privacy rights of millions of Americans, including members of the EPIC advisory board,” according to the complaint.
The Washington-based group wants the court to put a stop to the information gathering and order the blue ribbon commission to give back any data it’s already received until it meets the assessment requirement.
The court ordered the government to respond to the group’s request for an immediate, temporary halt to the information gathering by 4 p.m. on July 5.
More than two dozen states have already said they legally can’t or won’t comply — either fully or partially — with the panel’s request.
“Numerous states are refusing to give information to the very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL,” the president responded in a July 1 tweet. “What are they trying to hide?” Indiana, home of Vice President Mike Pence who chairs the commission, and Mississippi, a state that voted heavily for the president, are among those states.
Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, a Republican, offered one of the more colorful responses saying “they can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico.”
Trump created the commission through a May 11 executive order. He has long asserted that absent massive voter fraud, he’d have won the popular vote when he defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November presidential election. While Clinton garnered almost 3 million more votes, Trump prevailed in the Electoral College.
Pence and Kobach are both named as defendants, sued in their official capacities. The U.S. Justice Department’s press office didn’t immediately respond to an emailed request for comment sent outside regular business hours.
The case is Electronic Privacy Information Center v. Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, 17-cv-1320, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).