Florida Voters Sue to Keep Their Registration Information Private

(CN) – Five registered Florida voters and the American Civil Liberties Union sued the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, claiming the Trump administration panel is violating their privacy rights by attempting to collect their personal data.

President Donald Trump created the commission by executive order two months ago, naming Vice President Michael Pence the body’s chair and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach its vice chair.

Trump claims the body is need to ferret out voter fraud and to conduct an in-depth “study the registration and voting process used in federal elections.”

On June 28, Kobach sent a letter to all 50 states and the District of Columbia requesting a list of all registered voters along with information including their full names, last four digits of their social  security numbers, date of birth, political affiliation, addresses, phone numbers, voting history, military status, and information regarding felony convictions and voter registration in another state, if applicable.

According to the letter, all states need to submit their responses to the Presidential Advisory Commission by July 14.

In a federal complaint filed in Miami on Monday, the plaintiff voters and ACLU say “Florida law makes certain voter information confidential and exempt from disclosure under any circumstances.

“Social security numbers, driver’s license numbers and the source of voter registration application cannot be released under any circumstances,” the complaint says.

In additional, the plaintiffs say, the URL provided by the commission for states to transmit the voters’ registration data and information is not secure, making the data vulnerable to identity theft.

In recent days, voters in Idaho and New Hampshire have filed similar lawsuits hoping to prevent their secretaries of state from complying with Trump administration’s request.

State elections officials from at least 44 states have publicly announced their opposition to the commission’s demand for personal voter data and information.

However, officials in Florida said on July 6 that it will comply with the request by providing only “publicly available information.”

“Voting technology professionals wrote state election officials to warn that there is no indication how the information will be used, who will have access to it, or what safeguards will be established,” the complaint says.

According to the complaint, the E-Government Act requires every agency initiating a new collection of information to complete a “privacy impact assessment” prior to such a data collection, and that the commission has not conducted an such an assessment.

“There has been no congressional finding of a systematic and nationwide problem with voter registration files and voter history, including evidence of voter fraud, to justify the collection of state voter history and voter registration information by the federal government,” the complaint says.

On Monday, the commission asked the states to hold off on sending their voters’ information due to growing legal challenges.

The Florida voters are seeking injunctive and declaratory relief on claims of violations of the Federal Advisory Committee Act and The Paperwork Reduction Act, exceeding the authority of the executive order, breaches of Constitutional Separation of Powers, and violations regarding voters and voter registration confidentiality.

They are represented by H.K. Skip Pita of Pita Weber Del Prado in Miami, Fla., and Jason Blank from Haber Blank LLP in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.

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