Government & Politics

ACLU sues Kobach over program that exposed voters’ personal information

From Kansas to Trump's voter commission: Who is Kris Kobach?

President Donald Trump appointed Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to a new commission on May 11, 2017, that will investigate voter fraud and other election issues, according to White House officials. This video includes photos by AP Photo/Car
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President Donald Trump appointed Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to a new commission on May 11, 2017, that will investigate voter fraud and other election issues, according to White House officials. This video includes photos by AP Photo/Car

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach over concerns that his Crosscheck voter program put the personal data of more than 900 Kansas voters at risk.

Officials with the advocacy group said Tuesday morning in Kansas City, Kan., that the class-action lawsuit has been filed in federal court. Kobach, the head election official in Kansas, is seeking the Republican nomination for governor.

"In his zeal to make citizen participation in elections in Kansas as hard as possible, harder than any other state in the country, Secretary Kobach has chosen to put that ideological obsession over common sense and indeed above the rule of law," said Micah Kubic, executive director of the ACLU of Kansas.

Kobach said the lawsuit "is completely baseless."

"This ACLU lawsuit is yet another attack on secure and fair elections in America," Kobach said in a statement. "The ACLU is attacking states that try to keep our voter rolls clean. I will fight them every step of the way."

It was earlier revealed that Florida released partial Social Security numbers for nearly 1,000 Kansas voters after Kobach’s office provided the data as part of Crosscheck, a program that looks for double voter registrations.

Crosscheck shares voter data among states looking for possible duplications on voter rolls.

The Crosscheck program was around before Kobach’s tenure. But Kansas continues to hosts it and Kobach has been a vocal defender amid continued scrutiny.

“It is absolutely essential,” Kobach said in January. “The Crosscheck provides the first piece of evidence that a person may have voted twice.”

The ACLU's lawsuit also cites research that it says shows that when it comes to Crosscheck, "matching criteria yields false positive results in 99.5 percent of cases."

Kobach has used his time as secretary of state to help enact stricter voting requirements in Kansas. He also has claimed that voter fraud is widespread, including when he supported President Donald Trump's inaccurate claim that millions voted illegally in the 2016 election.

Kobach's use of voter data was also the subject of legal action during his time leading Trump's now defunct voter fraud commission.

The lawsuit came less than a day after a federal judge struck down a Kansas voter citizenship law that Kobach has long championed.

The legal team for the plaintiffs in the case say their Fourteenth Amendment right to privacy has been violated. They also allege Kobach violated the Kansas Public Records Act.

They are asking for penalties, attorney fees and an “injunction requiring Defendant to halt transmission of personal voter data until industry standard practices and procedures are implemented.”

The Wichita Eagle’s Jonathan Shorman contributed to this report.
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