- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A unanimous D.C. Council enacted emergency legislation Tuesday barring President Trump’s election integrity commission from gaining access to D.C. voters’ records.

The District joined a number of states that have rebuffed the fledgling commission’s request for voter information, including names, addresses, voting history and partial Social Security numbers. Many have cited privacy laws in denying the panel’s request for data, and some have questioned what the Trump administration intends to do with the information.

As an emergency law, the measure did not require Mayor Muriel Bowser’s signature, went into effect immediately and remains in effect for the next 90 days.

Without offering any evidence, Mr. Trump has claimed that millions of illegal voters cost him the popular vote in last year’s election. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton received about 2.9 million more votes than Mr. Trump, who overwhelmingly captured the Electoral College.

“The District of Columbia will not be party to this blatant effort to intimidate voters. There is no evidence of widespread voter fraud to support President Trump’s unsubstantiated claims,” council member Charles Allen, who sponsored the emergency legislation, said in a press release. “The myth of voter fraud is a distraction at best and at worst an intentional effort to justify laws to suppress votes — especially those of minority and elderly voters.”

During Tuesday’s legislative session, the Ward 6 Democrat said the president’s commission failed to give a reason for its request for voter data.

“It did not specify how the commission plans on using the information,” Mr. Allen said on the dais, citing past instances of what he called restrictive policies that the Trump administration has implemented against the elderly, minorities and the poor.

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, at-large Democrat, expressed concerns to Mr. Allen that his bill might hinder access to public information, but Mr. Allen assured him that would not be the case.

“The intent is that the [D.C. Board of Elections] does not respond to data requests from the commission. Public information which can be obtained through the Freedom of Information Act would still be allowed,” said Mr. Allen.

Mr. Trump assigned Vice President Mike Pence to head the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity and named Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach as the panel’s vice chairman. The commission aims to ensure that voter rolls are accurate and up to date, only eligible citizens vote and no fraud occurs in future elections.

Late last month Mr. Kobach sent a letter to officials in all 50 states and the District requesting voter information. As many as 44 states have expressed some reservations or cited legal barriers to complying in full with the request.

Last week the Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a lawsuit against Mr. Kobach and the commission for violating a 2002 law that requires a privacy-impact assessment before asking the states for voting data.

On Monday the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against Mr. Trump, Mr. Pence and the commission, accusing them of violating the Federal Advisory Committee Act and lacking transparency in the panel’s formation.

“If the so-called Election Integrity Commission wants to talk about real ways to ensure more Americans’ votes are counted, we would be happy to share our work in passing automatic voter registration legislation with Secretary Kobach,” Mr. Allen said Tuesday.

Council member Vincent Gray, Ward 7 Democrat, said Mr. Trump’s allegations of voter fraud are unsubstantiated.

But conservative activists have uncovered hundreds of noncitizens registered to vote in Frederick County, Maryland, and in six counties and two cities in Virginia.

 

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