The epoch times

Election observer sues Minnesota for sharing private voter data.

A lawsuit ⁢has been filed against the Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, alleging the state’s practice of cleaning its voter’s roll by‍ sharing⁢ citizens’ private information with a third party violates federal law, and although this case is​ limited to Minnesota, other states are doing the same thing.

Anyone who obtains a state driver’s license or⁢ identification card knows the state collects a lot of personal information in the licensing​ process.

The 1994 federal Drivers Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) restricts the disclosure and use of personal information found in state motor vehicle databases.

Yet since ‌2014, Minnesota has been ⁣giving this ⁤information to the Electronic Registration ‌Information Center ​(ERIC) to maintain the state’s voter registration records.⁤ As part of the agreement, ⁢Minnesota⁣ promised to give ERIC ⁢the following information from everyone who gets a license: 1)​ name, 2) date of birth, 3) address, 4) driver’s license or state identification card number, 5) ‌the last four digits of the Social Security​ number,⁣ 6) phone number, ‌and ⁢7) email address. This includes registered voters and people who are not registered to vote,‌ plus‌ minors ages 16 ⁤and ​17 who are not yet old enough to vote, but who are, in Minnesota, allowed to preregister ⁤for voting.

Voter Registration ⁢Lists

The lawsuit, filed ​in ⁤the U.S. District Court for the​ District ⁣of⁢ Minnesota, alleges that ⁤sharing data collected in ⁢the driver’s license process violates the DPPA.

The filing was⁣ announced​ Thursday, Oct. 12, in a press call with Attorney Erick Kaarda of the law firm Mohrman, Kaardal & ‍Erickson on behalf of the Minnesota Association for ⁣Government Accountability, and individual Minnesota citizens, parents, minors, and state senators Mark Koran and Calvin Bahr.

The DPPA has 14 exceptions that allow‌ for the disclosure of private ⁤driver data. For example, it could be shared if it’s for law enforcement purposes, for insurance purposes or if an individual specifically consents for their private driver⁢ data to be disclosed for use by something like the commercial retailer.

Another exception allows private driver data to be disclosed if it’s for use in a legally permitted government function.

ERIC ‌uses the data to ‌make ​lists of‍ eligible but unregistered voters and requires the states​ it contracts ⁢with to use these lists to attempt to ⁢get them‍ registered⁤ for voting. This, the plaintiffs argue, is the‌ real purpose of ERIC, ‌and it‍ is not allowed.

Voter ⁣registration drives are political and not the role of the government.

“The U.S. Election ⁤Assistance⁢ Commission says this isn’t a government function.” Mr. Kaardal said. “The federal law states that that voter registration drives are a⁤ private function. It’s something that political parties, nonprofits and campaigns do. So how is it that we’re using our private​ driver⁤ data in Minnesota for government-sponsored voter registration ⁢drives?”

Minnesota’s ⁤membership agreement with ERIC also allows ‌ERIC to ⁤share the private driver data with ⁤ERIC’s agents,⁤ contractors and subcontractors.

The plaintiffs are asking for the⁤ court to stop the ⁤Secretary ‌of State ⁣from sharing their private⁢ data kept by driver vehicle services through either a temporary restraining order or‌ preliminary ‌injunction while this litigation is​ pending.

The⁤ Minnesota Department of‍ State does not comment​ on pending litigation, Press Secretary Cassondra Knudson told The Epoch Times.

The following states are members of ERIC and also share private driver’s license data with⁢ Eric: Alaska, Arizona,⁢ Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New‍ Mexico,⁣ Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island,⁣ South⁣ Carolina, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

“We must execute our election activities in a nonpartisan manner, and we should never use our government resources—our data—​ to influence elections. This data, in many cases, is‍ not available to the public,⁤ or other partisan entities for‌ political or other purposes,” Mr. Koran said.

He mentioned a variety of legislation pending in Minnesota ​that ⁣could add to the ⁤number of citizens having personal data shared, including ⁢automatic voter registration for​ anyone ⁤who interacts with a Department of⁣ Public Safety‍ for anything driver’s license or ⁤ID related. And anyone who interacts with the Department of‍ Human Services‍ would also have their‍ information sent in, and they will be automatically enrolled in the statewide voter registration ⁢system.

“I think we should be ⁤very clear: Minnesota must be compliant with the DPPA protecting ⁢their ⁣privacy, private personally identifiable ⁣information, and we need to stop participating in ⁣ERIC because, I believe, Minnesota elections should not be⁢ for sale to private ​companies for partisan purposes,” Mr. Koran said.

Mr.‌ Kaardal said election watchers have⁤ been complaining⁤ about ERIC’s use of driver‍ data for years, but nothing has happened, and they​ need⁤ the help of the court to enforce the federal law.

“This‌ is the biggest data privacy case⁢ ever because you have‍ 300 million records involved,” Mr. Kaardal said. “I mean, ERIC ⁤has bragged that it has 300 ⁢million records, including driver data. It’s just an extraordinary breach‌ of the Driver Privacy Protection ‍Act, and people should be concerned.”

‍ How does ⁤the lawsuit against Minnesota’s Secretary ⁢of State highlight ‌the potential‌ violation of federal law in ‌sharing citizens’ personal information?

A lawsuit has been filed against the Minnesota Secretary of State, Steve Simon, accusing the state ​of violating federal law by sharing citizens’ private ‍information with a third party when cleaning its voter rolls. Although the case is specific to ‌Minnesota, it​ highlights a larger issue in which ‍other ⁤states are engaging in similar practices.

Those who obtain a state driver’s‍ license or identification card are ⁢aware of the⁣ extensive personal ⁤information ⁢collected during the licensing process. However, ⁣the 1994 federal ‍Drivers ⁤Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) restricts the disclosure and use of ‌personal information found⁢ in state ‌motor vehicle databases.

Since 2014,⁢ Minnesota has been ⁤sharing this information ​with the⁤ Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) to maintain its voter registration ​records. As part of ‍the ‌agreement, ‍Minnesota promised to provide ERIC with the names, dates of birth,⁢ addresses, ⁣driver’s license ‌or state identification card ⁣numbers, the last four ⁤digits of ‌the Social Security number, phone numbers, and email addresses of all license holders. This includes⁤ registered voters, non-registered individuals, and minors aged 16 and 17 who⁤ are allowed to preregister for voting in Minnesota.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, argues that the sharing of data collected during the driver’s license process⁢ violates the⁢ DPPA. The plaintiffs include ⁢the Minnesota ‌Association for Government Accountability, individual Minnesota citizens, parents, minors, and state senators Mark Koran and Calvin Bahr. Attorney⁣ Erick⁣ Kaarda of the law firm Mohrman, Kaardal & Erickson announced the filing in a press⁣ call⁢ on behalf of the plaintiffs.

While the DPPA allows for certain exceptions to the disclosure ⁤of private driver⁢ data, such as for law enforcement ​or insurance purposes, sharing the data for government-sponsored voter registration drives is ‍not permitted. ERIC uses the ​data to identify eligible but ⁣unregistered ​voters and⁢ requires participating states⁤ to use these lists⁢ to encourage voter registration. The plaintiffs argue that voter registration drives are political activities ‍and should not be the role of the ‍government.

Minnesota’s membership agreement with ERIC also permits the​ sharing of private driver data with ERIC’s⁢ agents,⁣ contractors, and subcontractors. To address these ​concerns, the plaintiffs are requesting that the court issue a temporary restraining order ‌or preliminary injunction to prevent the Secretary of State from​ sharing their ⁣private data while the litigation is pending.

The Minnesota Department of State declined to comment on the ⁣pending ‌litigation, according to Press Secretary‌ Cassondra Knudson.

This lawsuit raises ⁣important questions about the balance‌ between maintaining accurate voter⁣ rolls and protecting citizens’ privacy. The outcome of this case ​could have⁤ significant implications for⁣ voter registration practices in Minnesota and potentially other ‍states.



" Conservative News Daily does not always share or support the views and opinions expressed here; they are just those of the writer."

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