A U.S. appeals court in Washington on Tuesday upheld a lower court’s decision to allow President Donald Trump’s commission investigating voter fraud to request data on voter rolls from U.S. states. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) watchdog group, which filed the lawsuit, did not have legal standing to seek to force the presidential commission to review privacy concerns before collecting individuals’ voter data. EPIC had argued that under federal law, the commission was required to conduct a privacy-impact assessment before gathering personal data. But the three-judge appeals court panel ruled unanimously that the privacy law at issue was intended to protect individuals, not groups like EPIC. “EPIC is not a voter,” Judge Karen Henderson wrote in the ruling.
Washington-based U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly first denied EPIC’s injunction request in July, in part because the collection of data by the commission was not technically an action by a government agency so was not bound by laws that govern what such entities can do.
Kollar-Kotelly noted that the commission, headed by Vice President Mike Pence, was an advisory body that lacks legal authority to compel states to hand over the data.
Most state officials who oversee elections and election law experts say that voter fraud is rare in the United States.