Secretaries of State stop submitting voter data to Trump commission

President Trump selected Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to head his Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity

President Trump selected Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to head his Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity

That's illegal, so yesterday the ACLU sued the president's election commission under a federal law created to ensure public accountability of advisory committees.

The commission has a meeting planned for July 19 which will be open to the public.

The organization filed a federal lawsuit Monday against the Commission for its failure to operate in a transparent manner under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). But in an email Monday, the panel's designated officer told states to hold off until a judge rules on a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington. A presidential commission could be a force for overdue improvements, such as getting states to share more information.

In addition to the lawsuit, the Laywers' Committee has also filed a Hatch complaint against Commission Vice-Chair Kris Kobach, who recently announced his candidacy for the 2018 Kansas gubernatorial election.

"The context is that they're asking for the information that is publicly available, and we will provide the publicly available information - just like anyone in the state can grab a CD of it for 50 bucks", he told Colorado Politics.

Through the voter fraud commission, Kobach intends to compile voter data and concoct thousands of false positives, in order to make the case that the deeply reactionary measures enacted in Kansas should be adopted nationwide.

But the plaintiffs in the lawsuits say turning those numbers over as the commission has requested could violate voters' privacy, putting voters at risk.

The panel arose after Trump charged that at least 3 million people voted illegally a year ago, costing him the popular vote. But Kobach's filing Monday said the commission would no longer use the Huntsville data center.

REV. JESSE JACKSON speaks to Chicago Crusader’s Managing Editor Sharon Fountain and City Editor Erick Johnson
REV. JESSE JACKSON speaks to Chicago Crusader’s Managing Editor Sharon Fountain and City Editor Erick Johnson

In Wisconsin, elections officials halted plans to inform the commission how it could purchase for $12,500 its public voter data, not including Social Security numbers or birth dates.

According to the ACLU's suit, the commission chairman, Vice President Pence, had conducted its first meeting via a 90-minute telephone conference with members on June 28.

The ACLU has asked U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, who is presiding over the case, for mandamus relief to require the commission to open all of its meetings to the public, provide notice of such meetings in the federal register, take detailed minutes of each meeting and make their records publicly available. The emphatic rejections are based on concerns over federal intrusion into states' affairs and huge technical difficulties in complying, not to mention the commission's transparent objective.

"If they want to purchase it they can purchase it anytime they want because we're not going to provide it to them voluntarily or for free", Merrill said.

Bissonnette said he was pleased that the Trump commission pulled back its request for the data, at least temporarily.

In Florida, Secretary of State Ken Detzner said last week he would follow state public records law and partially comply with the request.

And that isn't the only lawsuit against Kobach's voter info request. He has claimed there was voter fraud on a massive scale during the 2016 election. She said the secretary of state's office had been receiving more complaints than usual after news of the commission's request broke.

MI now has a chance to lead the way in assuring voters their privacy is protected and championing these much needed reforms.

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