The Trump administration told a federal judge Wednesday that a legal challenge to an advisory commission’s request for sensitive data on voters from all 50 states could prevent the panel from investigating alleged voter fraud. Even as most states refuse to provide at least some of the data sought by the panel — including voters’ political affiliations and the last four digits of their Social Security numbers — the Justice Department argued that it is seeking only publicly available information. The lawsuit, filed Monday by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, asks the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to block the request as an invasion of privacy. Not so, the government responded.
“The commission has begun to request information from the states, to be provided on a voluntary basis,” the Justice Department said. “EPIC seeks to enjoin these first steps, which will prevent the commission from even beginning its work.”
The legal skirmish is the first of what could be many concerning the work of the commission, created by President Trump in May and nominally led by Vice President Pence. Under the day-to-day leadership of Kris Kobach, the controversial Kansas secretary of state, the panel is charged with investigating voter fraud that Trump claims denied him a majority of the popular vote last November.