Trump Commission freezes request for voter data

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After pushback and inquiries from across the country, the Federal Election Commission is telling states to hold off on fulfilling its request for voter data following a lawsuit from the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

The request prompted NY and more than a dozen other states to refuse to comply, stirred opponents of the commission to try to block it in court and led some voters in Colorado, North Carolina, Florida and Arizona to cancel their voter registrations to protect their privacy. But importantly, obtaining that information involves a process that creates a paper trail to ensure voters' personal data is protected.

In filing the lawsuit, EPIC urged a federal judge to block any further data collection, prompting Kobach to submit a court filing Monday stating that the commission voluntarily paused data collection efforts until the judge rules on the case.

The lawsuit identifies four of the first six Trump appointees - New Hampshire secretary of state Bill Gardner, former OH secretary of state Ken Blackwell, commissioner of the Election Assistance Commission Christy McCormick and Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach - as having previously exaggerated voter fraud claims or having supported polices that have disenfranchised voters. Gardner, a Democrat and member of the commission, plans to submit what is considered public in New Hampshire: names, addresses, party affiliations and voting history.

Through the voter fraud commission, Kobach intends to compile voter data and concoct thousands of false positives, in order to make the case that the deeply reactionary measures enacted in Kansas should be adopted nationwide.

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President Trump formed the voting fraud commission in May to investigate wide-scale voter fraud he believes took place during the 2016 election.

EPIC is also challenging the commission's use of a Defense Department website to collect voter information.

Kristin Mavromatis from the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections said North Carolina was only planning on handing over voter information that was already public, and now will do nothing. "We do not have to send anything", she said. Responded Mississippi's Delbert Hosemann, another Republican, "They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico, and Mississippi is a great state to launch from".

Both the ACLU and Lawyers' Committee say the commission must comply with Federal Advisory Committee Act, or FACA.

"The individuals on the commission raise some troubling questions as to the balance, the views that will be expressed", ACLU staff attorney Sophia Lin Lakin said in a phone interview.

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By the end of the week almost every state had refused the request in some fashion.

At the time, Gessler claimed under oath and before Congress that Colorado had more than 16,000 registered noncitizen voters, and that 5,000 of them had actually cast ballots in the 2010 election.

The panel arose after Trump charged that at least 3 million people voted illegally a year ago, costing him the popular vote. They say the commission's request - if compiled into a database - could put the nation's voter rolls at risk of hacking, manipulation and other nefarious possibilities.

The commission will hold a July 19 meeting - only available via internet livestream - and has, by its own admission, held a previous telephonic meeting without notifying the public, as required by law.

More than 40 states refused to provide the commission with the full breadth of data it requested.

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