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Remember the president’s Election Integrity Commission? To date 44 AGs have refused to comply, either in toto or in part, citing state election laws and concerns about the security of the data which is to be delivered to an online portal where it will be, according to the Chair of the Commission, noted voter-suppression specialist Kris Kobach, made public. I don’t know about you, but I would prefer that a commission charged to examine any kind of data “integrity” not go to such lengths to enable identify thieves.

No matter, though, how sloppy, clueless and potentially malevolent this particular clown-commission is revealing itself to be, according to CNN, our very cooperative Missouri Attorney Jay Ashcroft is only too delighted to hand over the goods:

Just three states — Colorado, Missouri and Tennessee — commended Kobach’s attempt to investigate voter fraud in their respective statements.

“We are very glad they are asking for information before making decisions,” said Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, a Republican. “I wish more federal agencies would ask folks for their opinion and for information before they made decisions.”

Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, also a Republican, echoed Williams’ sentiment in a statement Friday: “The commission’s questions are fair and we will be glad to assist in offering our thoughts on these important matters,” he said. “I look forward to working with Sec. Kris Kobach and the commission on its findings and offer our support in the collective effort to enhance the American people’s confidence in the integrity of the elections process.”

I can see agreeing to hand over publicly accessible components of the information Kobach demanded, as long as he requests then via the channels required for other members of the public and pays any attendant charges – none of which, by the way, seems to have occurred to Kobach as a potential contingency.

As an aside,** I wish someone would let the Colorado AG know that demanding sensitive citizen information so that a panel of acknowledged voter suppression experts can play with it does not comprise a request for anyone’s “opinion” – a point that seems to have also escaped our own AG, Jay Ashcroft, who is more than willing to kiss the iron heel of federal authority as long as it serves the goal of Republican electoral hegemony.

Finally, to give you an idea about just how really low Ashcroft’s willing collaboration is, consider the fact that the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) filed suit yesterday to stop this illegitimate and potentially dangerous information grab:

“[T]he Commission had already committed two egregious security blunders,” EPIC said in a statement on its website. “(1) directing state election officials to send voter records to an unsecure web site and (2) proposing to publish partial SSNs that would enable identity theft and financial fraud.”

In its suit requesting a temporary injunction against the commission’s data collection activities, filed in the D.C. District Court, the group called the request for partial Social Security numbers “both without precedent and crazy.”
It also accused the commission of violating the E-Government Act of 2002, which requires a privacy impact assessment be completed and made available to the public before the collection of personal information by the federal government using information technology. No assessment was conducted before requesting voter data, the suit alleges.

The commission’s broad request for data combined with the lack of any privacy assessment could “cause irreparable harm to EPIC’s members,” the suit alleged.

“Once data has been leaked, there is no way to control its spread,” it continued. “With a data breach, there is literally no way to repair the damage, once done.”

At the very least we ought to demand that our Attorney General respect the strictures of the E-Government Act of 2002 and cease and desist in his effort to empower the GOP election fraud sham. If you want to let him know about it and perhaps register a few choice comments on his behavior, the number is 573-571-4936 and ask for the Elections Division.

** Addendum (7/5/2017): I should have also added here that Ashcroft’s statement that the commission’s “questions” are fair defies belief. How is it fair for an “independent commission,” run out of the President’s office – a president who has already started his 2020 campaign – to ask states for information about how citizens have voted since 2006 along with identifying information? On a deeper level, how is it fair to use tax money to investigate a problem for which the only evidence is the pulled-out-thin-air fantasy of partisans and a seriously unstable president? I might just as credibly convene a panel to explore the possibilities that Donald Trump has used arcane magic to control weather patterns. Or whether or not Barack Obama was born in Kenya. One might be tempted to ask what planet Ashcroft inhabits except that the reasons for his glee in assisting this sham commission are obvious.

(Editorial cartoon removed 3:57 pm 7/4/2017)