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White House says privacy lawsuit hurts voter fraud investigation

By
Ray Downs
President-elect Donald Trump greets Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach at the clubhouse of Trump International Golf Club, in Bedminster, New Jersey, on November 20, 2016. Kobach is the vice president of Trump's voter fraud investigation panel and criticized reports that said 44 states have refused to comply with the administration's request for voter information. Pool Photo by Peter Foley/UPI
President-elect Donald Trump greets Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach at the clubhouse of Trump International Golf Club, in Bedminster, New Jersey, on November 20, 2016. Kobach is the vice president of Trump's voter fraud investigation panel and criticized reports that said 44 states have refused to comply with the administration's request for voter information. Pool Photo by Peter Foley/UPI | License Photo

July 5 (UPI) -- The Trump administration is challenging a lawsuit that aims to prevent a White House panel investigating voter fraud from obtaining individual voter information.

The panel wants voter affiliation and the last four digits of voters' security number as part of its investigation. In response, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration, arguing the information is private.

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But the Department of Justice contends that the information is part of the public record and should be given to the White House panel and the lawsuit only hinders the investigation.

"The commission has begun to request information from the states, to be provided on a voluntary basis," the DOJ said. "EPIC seeks to enjoin these first steps, which will prevent the commission from even beginning its work."

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EPIC president Marc Rotenberg argued that the administration has no right to the information.

"It's not that they shouldn't [request the data], it's that they can't," Rotenberg said, according to Law.com. "The aim is to block the ability of the commission to seek the sensitive voter data."

Meanwhile, the voter fraud investigation commission has requested the voter information from states, but many have refused. According to a CNN estimate, 44 states denied the commission's request, but Kansas, the secretary of state and vice president of the commission, disputed those estimates.

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"While there are news reports that 44 states have 'refused' to provide voter information to the Commission, these reports are patently false, more 'fake news,'" he said in a statement. "At present, only 14 states and the District of Columbia have refused the Commission's request for publicly available voter information."

In a tweet, President Donald Trump criticized the states that have refused to cooperate with the commission.

"Numerous states are refusing to give information to the very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL. What are they trying to hide?" Trump wrote.

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