Voter fraud commission urges court to allow data collection

Voter fraud commission urges court to allow data collection
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President Trump’s voter fraud commission is urging a federal court not to block it from collecting state data on registered voters.

The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity responded Monday to a motion from the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). The privacy group asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia earlier this month for a temporary restraining order to stop the commission from collecting state voter roll data.

EPIC claims the commission violated the E-Government Act of 2002 and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) in asking all 50 states and D.C. for voters’ full names and addresses, political party registration and the last four digits of their Social Security numbers.

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The E-government Act of 2002 requires all agencies to complete and publicly release a Privacy Impact Assessment, detailing the type of information being collected, what the information is being used for, how it will be protected and whether it will be disclosed to others, before collecting personal information electronically.

The Administrative Procedure Act, meanwhile, prohibits federal agencies from taking an action that is “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion or otherwise not in accordance with law.”

But the presidential commission on Monday said it doesn’t have to follow those laws because it’s not a federal agency.

“The Commission is not an agency subject to the APA and the E-Government Act because it lacks ‘substantial independent authority in the exercise of specific functions.’ The Commission reports directly to the President and is ‘solely advisory,’” attorneys in the Department of Justice argued in court documents.

The attorneys, who include Chad Readler, acting assistant attorney general for the civil division, said the commission was created to "submit a report to the President that identifies rules and activities that enhance and undermine the American people’s confidence in the integrity of the voting process used in Federal elections” and to identify “vulnerabilities in voting systems ... that could lead to Improprieties.”

“The Commission has no regulatory, funding, or enforcement powers, nor does it have any independent administrative responsibilities,” the attorneys said in court briefs. “Instead, it exists solely to provide research and advice to the President. It is not, therefore, an ‘agency.’”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law are also suing the commission, which is scheduled to hold its first public meeting on Wednesday.

The ACLU and the lawyer’s committee claim the commission has violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), which requires the membership of the advisory committee have a balance in points of view and that “appropriate provisions” be made “to assure that the advice and recommendations of the advisory committee will not be inappropriately influenced by the appointing authority or any special interest."

The lawyer’s committee has asked for a court order to block the commission’s July 19 meeting unless it complies with the FACA. 

The commission was formed to investigate Trump's claims of voter fraud in the 2016 election. 

 

Fraud Commission Response to Injunction Request by M Mali on Scribd