Appeals Court Throws Out Privacy Lawsuit Against ‘Voter Fraud’ Panel

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach talks with party members at the Republican election watch party in Topeka, Kan., Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. Kobach is not on the ballot this election. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
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An appeals court Tuesday said that a privacy group suing President Trump’s so-called voter fraud commission was not itself a voter, and thus could not bring a claim alleging that the commission had failed to protect voters’ privacy in seeking states’ voter roll data.

“As we read it, the provision is intended to protect individuals—in the present context,
voters—by requiring an agency to fully consider their privacy before collecting their personal information,” the appeals court said, in denying the Electronic Privacy Information Center’s request to halt the commission’s data collection operation.

“EPIC is not a voter and is therefore not the type of plaintiff the Congress had in mind,” the court said.

The decision, handed down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, came after a lower court had also denied EPIC’s request that it halt the commission’s data collection operations.

“We agree with the district court that EPIC is unlikely to succeed on its [Administrative Procedure Act] claims. But we reach that conclusion for a different reason from the one the district court identified,” the appeals court said. “Specifically, we uphold the denial of a preliminary injunction because EPIC has not shown a substantial likelihood of standing.”

The lower court had said that the commission did not qualify as an agency under the Administrative Procedure Act, the law EPIC alleges the commission has violated.

EPIC had brought the lawsuit after the commission, dubbed the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, sent letters to state officials in June seeking voter roll data. It is one of a number legal challenges the commission has faced.

The commission’s voter roll request was widely criticized, even by some Republican state election officials. After an initial court victory over EPIC in the case, the commission’s vice chair, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) sent a follow-up letter clarifying that voters’ private information would not become public and stressing that the commission was only seeking data states legally are allowed to hand over.

Read the appeals court decision below:

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