Experts: Trump’s “Voter Data Request” is Illegal and Can be Safely Ignored

by Dartagnan

Like all of his ill-conceived, opportunistic “seat of the pants” initiatives, most of which are the fevered work product of his acolytes desperate to distract attention from their Leader’s collusion with the Russian government to secure his election (and their current positions), Trump’s demand that individual states provide personal “Voter Data,” including the names and addresses, political party affiliation, voting “histories,” criminal records, military service records, dates of birth, and partial Social Security numbers from all voting citizens in the 50 states is illegal and can be safely ignored.

President Trump’s voter fraud commission may have violated the law by ignoring federal requirements governing requests for information from states, several experts on the regulatory process told The Hill. 

The idea of a “dossier” on each individual American voter compiled by the likes of a seasoned voter suppressor like Kris Kobach doubtlessly appealed to some of Trump’s advisors’ Nazi-like instincts. But as disappointing as it may be for the fevered fantasies of Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, the veritable Goering and Goebbels of Trump’s cabal, we don’t yet live in the Third Reich. Despite the fact that the Administration apparently feels it can simply issue a decree to obtain whatever it wants to satisfy an agenda designed to please its base of witless supporters, the actual laws governing its behavior have a peculiar habit of intervening:

Experts say the failure to submit the request to states through the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) violates a 1980 law known as the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). They also say the failure could be significant, since states could argue it means they are under no obligation to respond. 

Bad people often hire bad lawyers. This Administration is no exception:

After an initial version of this story was published online, the White House in an email argued that the election commission is exempt from the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act, which requires federal agencies to take specific steps before making requests for public information. The reason is simple, according to a spokesman: The commission is not an agency.

That explanation doesn’t fly. But it is illustrative of the specious legal arguments this Administration is willing to make in order to attain its ideological goal of disenfranchising as many American voters as possible by bogus claims of non-existent “voter fraud”:

Experts interviewed by The Hill said they believed that the commission did fall under the Paperwork Reduction Act, a 1980 law that requires federal agencies to seek public input, including through a comment period, before making a request for information. A 1995 amendment extended OIRA’s authority to include not only requests for information for the government, but also requests for information to the public. 

Yep. The law says you need public input before you form a pseudo-Commission to hijack Americans’ personal data for political purposes. But “public input” and an official comment period for Americans to express their opinions is the last thing this Administration wants. One can only imagine the public reaction if this Administration actually complied with the law and asked the American people how they felt about a Russian-colluding Administration stealing their personal information to share with its computer-hacking “friends” in the Kremlin.

Stuart Shapiro is a Professor of Public Policy at Rutgers University:

 “I think it shows a carelessness in their desire to come in and shake things up and do what they want and to do so with a disregard for the rules,” said Shapiro, who is also a contributor to The Hill.
“We saw it with the immigration ban, we saw it with the court overturning the delay of the methane rules,” he said, referring to a federal appeals court decision on Monday that prevents the administration from suspending enforcement of a rule restricting methane emissions.
“They aren’t following the rules, and when you don’t follow the rules, eventually someone points that out and you have to go back and follow them.”

Think about that. An Administration whose governing principle is to break the law until someone calls them on it.

What a sad role model for our children. But that’s just something else that these people never thought about as they were busy worming their way into our government.

 

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos