A federal judge on Monday cleared the way for President Trump’s fraudulent “voter fraud” commission to proceed in gathering personal data on the nation’s voters. The 35 page order and opinion is HERE (.pdf).
The New York Times reports, Judge Clears Way for Trump’s Voter Fraud Panel to Collect Data:
[Trump’s fraudulent “voter fraud” commission], which was created after the president falsely claimed that millions of illegal votes cost him the popular vote in 2016, has come under siege from many organizations that have filed lawsuits accusing the commission of violating federal privacy laws. The judge’s decision on Monday delivered a setback to the opposition, which has objected to the commission’s expansive request for the personal and public data about the country’s 200 million voters.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center, which filed the suit, sought to stop the commission from acquiring the voter data, claiming that the panel should have conducted a privacy impact assessment before asking states for the personal information. But the judge, Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of Federal District Court, said the panel did not qualify as a federal agency, so it was not required to conduct and publish a privacy assessment.
So this is a narrow ruling based on a statutory technicality, not a sweeping endorsement of the commission.
The Kansas City Star adds: [T]he judge in the EPIC court case did note in her ruling that the request for voter information is not a binding demand to the states. “Defendants’ request for information is just that — a request — and there is no evidence that they have sought to turn the request into a demand, or to enforce the request by any means,” U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly wrote.
Marc Rotenberg, the president of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said his group would continue to closely examine the commission.
“The commission cannot evade privacy obligations by playing a shell game with the nation’s voting records,” Mr. Rotenberg said in a statement.
GOP voter suppression specialist and co-chair of Trump’s fraudulent “voter fraud” commission, Kris Kobach, said states will be sent a new letter describing how to submit voter information following a federal court ruling this week. After legal victory, Kobach says states will be sent new letter for voter information:
Kobach told The Kansas City Star that he expected those instructions to be issued Tuesday.
“There are more than 30 states that already indicated they intended to provide this publicly available information to the commission,” Kobach said. “So I anticipate that that will start happening soon.”
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The Brennan Center for Justice has tracked states’ responses to Kobach’s voter information request. According to a map and research released by the center, “21 states and the District of Columbia have declined to provide data.”
Eight states have imposed conditions, according to the center, which mostly includes fee requirements. The center’s tracking also found 17 states, including Kansas and Missouri, that have said they will provide data “not shielded under state law.”
The Electronic Privacy Information Center said in its lawsuit that the data request “violates the privacy rights of millions of Americans.”
The commission scrapped an earlier method it planned to use for the data transfer in the midst of the EPIC court case. It told the judge the White House would be responsible for collecting and storing the voter roll data.
Yeah, that should make you rest easy at night.
The Washington Post recently editorialized, Trump’s election commission is fully transparent about its purpose: Voter obstruction:
AT THE inaugural meeting of President Trump’s already embattled voter integrity commission last week, one member, Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, expressed relief that despite bitter controversy over the panel’s mission, at least no one had questioned the legitimacy of the 2016 presidential election. A few hours later, the commission’s vice chairman, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, questioned the legitimacy of the 2016 presidential election.
In an appearance on MSNBC, Mr. Kobach, a Republican titan of voter suppression who has been repeatedly sued for his relentless efforts to cull voters from the rolls of his home state, was asked if he believed that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes, as the official tally indicates. “You know,” said Mr. Kobach, “we may never know the answer to that question.”
In fact, not a speck of evidence exists to cast doubt on the official tally of the popular vote, nor, for that matter, on the electoral vote. Still, the offhand remark was in keeping with Mr. Kobach’s years-long effort, along with that of other Republicans, to erode public confidence in American elections to provide a pretext for tough state laws whose real goal is to obstruct voting by minorities and young people, who tend to support Democrats.
Formed by Mr. Trump after he falsely asserted that 3 to 5 million votes were cast illegally in the 2016 election, the commission includes members, in addition to Mr. Kobach, known for their histories of voter obstruction. One, former Ohio secretary of state J. Kenneth Blackwell, a Republican, is notorious for trying to reject registration forms submitted on paper that was too thin, and for trying to impede voter registration drives. Another, Hans Von Spakovsky, a former Justice Department official, led a failed attempt to purge voter rolls in Missouri.
[V]oter lists nationwide must be kept clean and up-to-date. But glitches, inconsistencies and double registrations — often caused by people who move from one state to another, or whose names remain on the rolls posthumously — are not the sinister indication of fraud that champions of suppression like Mr. Kobach pretend. The relentless suggestions to the contrary, even in the absence of proof of any widespread illegal voting, has had the intended effect: Americans’ confidence in the honesty of elections has fallen steadily for almost a decade, according to a Gallup poll, and sharply last year as Mr. Trump harped on alleged vote “rigging.”
An honest election commission would make constructive suggestions for systemic improvements while at the same time debunking the patently phony idea that fraud is common. In this case, however, Mr. Kobach and his allies have an all-too-transparent agenda.
Or as conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin of the Post points out, Kobach is a ‘useful idiot’ for Russia (excerpt):
Even beyond Kobach’s babbling and the danger he will rationalize voter-suppression measures based on non-existent voter fraud, Kobach and others on the commission play the role of useful idiot for Russia when they speak this way. After all, Russia’s larger plan is to discredit Western democracies and treat our open and free elections as no more legitimate than Vladimir Putin’s rigged system. “It’s the latest example of Trump’s apparatchiks trying to curry favor with the boss by telling him what he wants to hear, no matter how outrageous or outlandish,” observes Thomas Wright of the Brookings Institution. “Trump and Kobach are ignoring the very real threat to U.S. democracy and inventing one that serves their own personal interests. Meanwhile, the Russian threat to American democracy gathers unhindered.”
And that in a nutshell is the problem: We have an administration that finds it more helpful to fan Russian propaganda than to speak simple truths about America’s democratic system and Russia’s corrupt thugocracy. Supporting Russian propaganda now seems part and parcel of the commission’s assignment. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., remarked to me, “The far right has never seemed to care about facts in their crusade to keep certain people from voting, but this astonishing denial of the election outcome stands out as the kind of phoniness that undermines the country’s faith in the very democratic institutions our system is built on. This is nonsense, but it’s dangerous nonsense.”
Trump, and now Kobach, do Putin’s handiwork far more effectively than he ever dreamed. Along with the Trump flunkies at Fox News, they take Russia’s side in its assault on Western democracies’ free and fair elections. Frankly, if the members of the commission had backbone and principles they’d denounce Kobach’s comments and do their best to demonstrate that there is no systematic fraud in our electoral system.
If any of the commission members had an ounce of self-respect, they would simply resign, stating the obvious that the commission is a fraud.