President Trump’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity responded to one of an increasing number of lawsuits against it, asking a federal judge Monday to deny a request seeking to prevent the gathering of states’ voter data over concerns about transparency and privacy. In a court filing on Monday, the commission argued federal law doesn’t require it to perform a privacy risk assessment before collecting voter data, which was a key argument in one of the first lawsuits brought by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) earlier this month. After Kris W. Kobach, the panel vice chairman, asked states to turn over names, partial Social Security numbers, birthdays, political party affiliations, military status and other public information last month, EPIC filed suit, hoping to force the commission to complete a Privacy Impact Assessment before gathering the personal data. EPIC quickly scored a win when the commission suspended its collection of state voter information earlier this month until a judge rules on the matter.
On Monday the commission asked the judge to deny EPIC’s request for a restraining order on the gathering of data, arguing that the pro-privacy group doesn’t have the legal right, or “standing,” to file the lawsuit.
“As a threshold matter, the Court lacks jurisdiction to award preliminary relief because plaintiff has failed to establish standing. Plaintiff has not alleged any facts that the organization itself has suffered any injury, nor has it identified a single member who is suffering injury,” the commission argued in its brief.
William McGeveran, a law professor at the University of Minnesota, said if the court rejects the commission’s technical arguments against the litigation, “EPIC should win on the substance of privacy law.” “If an ordinary federal agency like the Commerce Department made such a sweeping data request with so little planning, it would certainly violate the law,” said Mr. McGeveran.