Election Commission to States: Hold Voter Info Pending Legal Ruling

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President Trump's election commission asked states to hold off on handing over voter data it requested. A watchdog group challenged the commission's request in federal court.
President Trump's election commission asked states to hold off on handing over voter data it requested. A watchdog group challenged the commission's request in federal court.

President Trump’s election commission sent a letter today asking Secretaries of State to hold off on submitting the voter data it requested pending a federal judge’s ruling on a legal challenge. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a lawsuit seeking a temporary restraining order on the commission’s request, saying it was an unprecedented invasion of American privacy.

The commission had requested all 50 states submit detailed voter information, including names, addresses, the last four digits of social security numbers, military history, and voting history. The request set off a firestorm, with some states saying they’d provide only what was publicly available, others agreeing to submit all voter data, and still others that refused to submit any information on its voters.

Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill learned of the letter from the commission halting data collection when he was contacted about it by WBHM Monday evening. He said EPIC’s move challenging the request was somewhat expected.

“I’m not surprised if some group reached out and tried to discourage the request from being fulfilled at any level,” Merrill said Monday.

He said with some states “It’s going to be difficult for them to find anything that they will find useful,” Merrill said. Several Secretaries of State including Merrill questioned the commission’s intent in wanting to collect detailed voter data.

“I’m not sure what their mission is. That’s part of the problem,” he said. “And unfortunately I don’t think that anybody else does either.”

Here’s the letter from the commission, obtained by WBHM:

 

Dear Election Official,

 

As you may know, the Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a complaint seeking a Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO”) in connection with the June 28, 2017 letter sent by Vice Chair Kris Kobach requesting publicly-available voter data.  See Electronic Privacy Information Center v. Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.  Until the Judge rules on the TRO, we request that you hold on submitting any data.  We will follow up with you with further instructions once the Judge issues her ruling.

Andrew Kossack

Designated Federal Officer

Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity

 

Gigi Douban

News Director