Lawsuit Slams Election Commission’s Request: ‘Without Precedent And Crazy’

Carolyn Kaster/AP

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a privacy advocacy group, filed suit on Monday against President Donald Trump’s bogus “election integrity” commission over its request to all 50 states for sensitive voter information.

“[T]he Commission had already committed two egregious security blunders,” EPIC said in a statement on its website. “(1) directing state election officials to send voter records to an unsecure web site and (2) proposing to publish partial SSNs that would enable identity theft and financial fraud.”

In its suit requesting a temporary injunction against the commission’s data collection activities, filed in the D.C. District Court, the group called the request for partial Social Security numbers “both without precedent and crazy.”

It also accused the commission of violating the E-Government Act of 2002, which requires a privacy impact assessment be completed and made available to the public before the collection of personal information by the federal government using information technology. No assessment was conducted before requesting voter data, the suit alleges.

The commission’s broad request for data combined with the lack of any privacy assessment could “cause irreparable harm to EPIC’s members,” the suit alleged.

“Once data has been leaked, there is no way to control its spread,” it continued. “With a data breach, there is literally no way to repair the damage, once done.”

A number of states — 41, by CNN’s count — have refused to cooperate with all or part of the commission’s request for sensitive voter data in recent days, some citing state and federal law.

In addition to personal and political information, the committee requested information regarding voters’ potential felony, military and overseas citizen statuses.

The suit named both the commission’s chair and its vice chair, Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, in their official capacity. Both of their home states have declined to share certain information with the commission, citing state law.

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly gave the defendants until 4:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday to respond to the suit.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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