On July 3, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed suit against Kris Kobach and the Trump administration’s “election integrity” commission for not conducting a privacy-impact assessment before requesting sweeping voter data from all 50 states.
“The collection and aggregation of state voter roll data by a federal commission is without precedent,” wrote EPIC in its motion for a temporary restraining order to block the release of the data to the federal government. “The Commission’s pending action would increase the risks to the privacy of millions of registered voters—including in particular military families whose home addresses would be revealed—and would undermine the integrity of the federal election system. Further, the request for partial Social Security Numbers that are often used as default passwords for commercial services, coupled with the Commission’s plan to make such information ‘publicly available,’ is both without precedent and crazy.”
In remarkably short order, the commission’s request for voter data has led to an unprecedented political and legal backlash. Forty-eight states have refused to provide all of the data Kobach asked for. And EPIC’s lawsuit was followed by similar suits by the ACLU, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights (two lawsuits), Public Citizen, and voters in Florida, who allege that Kobach and the Trump commission have violated at least six different federal privacy and ethics laws. In the span of a week, six major lawsuits have been filed against the commission. The Trump administration told states yesterday not to send any voter data until a federal court ruled on EPIC’s motion.