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Lawsuit seeks to block Indiana voter data from Trump panel

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Two groups are suing the Indiana secretary of state's office in an effort to block the release of voter data requested by a White House commission investigating President Donald Trump's allegations of widespread voter fraud.

The lawsuit, which comes amid similar legal challenges in New Hampshire and Washington D.C., was filed Tuesday in state court by the NAACP and the League of Women Voters of Indiana.

Without citing proof, Trump has repeatedly said he believes millions of fraudulent ballots were cast in the November election, when he carried the Electoral College but lost the popular vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton.

The commission launched to investigate those claims is being chaired by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who sent requests for detailed voter information to all 50 states.

Already, Kobach has faced backlash from Republicans and Democrats alike over the request. In the face of legal challenges, the commission told states this week to hold off on providing the data.

The Indiana lawsuit argues that state law prohibits Secretary of State Connie Lawson from releasing voter information to a third-party in most cases, if that third-party plans to release the information to someone else.

The lawsuit notes that Kobach said in his letter that he plans to make any documents submitted "available to the public." The groups argue that would "run afoul of the State's carefully-crafted limitations on the use of voter data" which "may be released only under certain limited circumstances and conditions imposed by Indiana's election laws."

Indiana law does allow a third party to release the data to other people if it is used for "political activities or political fundraising activities," but the advocates argue that doesn't apply to Trump's commission.

A spokeswoman for Lawson, a Republican, declined to comment on the lawsuit. But she has previously said that she would release a limited amount of the data, including the voters' names, addresses and the congressional district they live in.

It remains unclear exactly how the data will be used. Pence spokesman Marc Lotter said the commission will look for potential irregularities in voter registrations and advise states on how they can improve their practices.

But many secretaries of state say all or part of the requested data is not public in their states. Some Democrats have said the commission is merely trying to provide cover for Trump's unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. They have also suggested that its findings could be used to justify stringent new laws that make it difficult for many voters to cast a ballot.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia are refusing to comply with the commission's request. Many others, including Indiana, plan to provide only limited publicly available information.

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