The fact that all these things happened on the same day raises significant questions and concerns. Is the DOJ coordinating with the PACEI, and if so, what role is the DOJ playing in the PCEI’s efforts? How does the DOJ react to the privacy concerns raised by the PACEI’s requests? While the DOJ is relying upon data provided by the states to the EAC, is it aware that the agency is on the chopping block? And how will the special counsel, while working for the DOJ investigating acts arising from Russia’s efforts to influence and manipulate the outcome of the 2016 election, view efforts to eradicate the one agency best situated to work with federal agencies and election officials to protect against future threats?
David also explains how a lot of the data the Pence-Kobach commission wants is not really publicly available:
It’s very important to note that most of this data is not available to the public, as it is highly sensitive personally identifiable information (PII). For instance, in most states the date of birth, Social Security number (last four digits or otherwise), felon status, military status, and other information is not, and should not, be made available to the public, and the commissioners on the PACEI should certainly know that. Can you imagine making publicly available to anyone with an internet connection, foreign or domestic, a complete list of all military voters and their home addresses, let alone including birthdates and social security numbers?
Furthermore, without that PII, using only the public information regarding identity (usually name and address only), it is virtually impossible to use that data to analyze anything. The states and those of us who have expertise in working with voter registration data will tell you that you need several other reference points (usually the PII) to effectively match a record with another record and conclusively state those records relate to the same individual. For instance, if you have a “Sean O’Hara” in one state living at 123 First Street, and a “Sean O’Hara” living at 123 First Avenue in another state, can you know that these two records relate to the same Sean O’Hara? Of course not. So a choice must be made—either collect enough data, including sensitive data, to make the analysis useful (which requires a comprehensive security plan), or get virtually no utility from the data whatsoever. It appears that the PACEI has chosen the latter, but it’s unclear why.