Voter Panel Can Now Collect Voter Information
A new wrinkle arose on July 24 in the controversy over whether states should release voter information to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.
A district judge in Washington, D.C., denied a temporary restraining order to the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), which was attempting to block the commission from collecting the data from all 50 states and D.C., based on privacy concerns. The panel had been unable to collect the data pending the judge’s decision.
Now, most states can choose to release voter data to the commission.
The decision doesn’t affect the situation in Texas for now though, because on July 20, the League of Women Voters of Texas, the Texas NAACP and a private citizen filed suit in District Court in Travis County seeking to prevent release of state voter records to the committee. Several other states are in similar situations because of pending lawsuits.
“Since a federal court has ruled that the commission can continue to pursue its data collection efforts, it is even more important that Texas adhere to our privacy protections in state law,” said Texas League President Elaine Wiant. “Texas cannot send the data to the commission until our lawsuit is resolved.”
The Texas suit points out that Secretary of State Rolando Pablos would be breaking state law if he hands over personal information about voters to the commission without meeting certain conditions. Those include paying a fee – more than $1,000 for the entire Texas voter list – presenting a notarized affidavit stating they will not use the data in connection with advertising or promoting commercial products or services, and protecting birth dates to prevent risk of identity theft.
When the committee first requested voter records nationwide in late June, Pablos indicated he would provide it “public information.” He did not mention any conditions attached to the release of the information.
On July 5, Wiant sent a letter to Pablos urging him to decline the request as several other states had done at that point, citing privacy concerns and the belief that the real purpose of the commission was to “suppress voter participation and to promote a false narrative about voter fraud.”
The commission is headed by Vice President Mike Pence. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is vice chairman.
“This commission has assembled a Who's Who from the Voter Suppression Hall of Fame and presents one of the greatest threats to democracy in the last 100 years,” said Gary Bledsoe, president of the Texas NAACP and an attorney with the Bledsoe Law Firm. “This lawsuit is intended not to obfuscate any legitimate efforts to scrutinize voter efforts, but to ask that our state recognize our traditional values such as privacy and not produce unnecessary and inappropriate information that can only lead to harming voters.”
To read the Texas lawsuit, go to http://bit.ly/lwvsuit