Thursday, September 20, 2018
Politics

Trump voter commission discloses names of members, plan to store data at White House

The Trump administration formally identified its 10-member commission seeking voter data from all 50 states in a court filing Thursday that also said the commission intends to keep the data it collects at the White House.

The response came in a lawsuit by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a civil liberties group, that has asked a federal judge in Washington to block the requests for voter information until the government conducts a full assessment of the impact on Americans' privacy.

The commission's request for voting information has caused a nationwide uproar, with officials in nearly every state saying they cannot or will not turn over all of the data.

RELATED COVERAGE: What you need to know about President Trump's voting fraud panel

President Donald Trump has made claims widespread voter fraud cost him the popular vote in November, although critics say the claim is unsubstantiated and is a pretext for voter suppression.

In Thursday's reply to questions by U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, R, the vice chairman of the group and a leading conservative voice on concerns about voter fraud, listed six Republicans and four Democrats on the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

RELATED COVERAGE: Florida congressional Democrats blast Trump's 'outrageous' voter data request

Led by chairman Vice President Mike Pence, the panel's other members are Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, R; New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, D; Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap, D; former Ohio secretary of state Ken Blackwell, R; Christy McCormick, R, commissioner with the U.S. Election Assistance Commission; former Arkansas state representative David Dunn, D; Mark Rhodes, clerk of Wood County, W.Va., D; and Hans von Spakovsky, senior legal fellow of the Heritage Foundation, R.

Kobach said in the court filing that McCormick is not serving in her official capacity as a member of the EAC, but was selected based on her knowledge of election law and experience with the U.S. Justice Department. Kobach said the Trump commission has "no legal relationship with the EAC," and that while the president can appoint additional members to the newly formed advisory commission, to Kobach's knowledge, no other federal agency officials are currently under consideration.

The federal judge had sought replies to the makeup of the commission and where information would be stored after the government asked her to toss out the EPIC lawsuit. In asking for the dismissal, the government defended its request for voter details saying the data was public information, and claimed the voter commission was not subject to federal privacy review requirements.

Kobach's reply also addressed one unknown: where data would be stored.

Trump's executive order designated that the General Services Administration would support and staff the commission. However in the court filing, Kobach said there are no plans at this time for the GSA to collect or store elections-related data.

Instead, he said, the White House is using a website for data transfers operated by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center. Once states upload data to that site, "commission staff will download . . . the files . . . onto White House computers. As this is a Presidential advisory commission, the White House is responsible for collecting and storing data for the Commission."

Kobach said a federal officer designated by the vice president's office will work with White House information technology staff to set up collection and storage.

Trump formed the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity in May after repeatedly suggesting that voter fraud cost him the popular vote against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Studies and state officials of both parties have found no evidence of widespread voting fraud.

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