IV. Fed-State Update
With several lawsuits pending, this week the President’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity put on hold its request for voter data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The White House said it would delete the information provided by Arkansas—the only state to so far submit the requested data.
Although the request is currently on hold, there is still a lot of news about it this week, here is a look at just some of it.
On Capitol Hill, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Virginia) has written a letter to Vice President Mike Pence asking him to quash the commission’s request for voter data.
"This extensive order risks compromising the privacy of millions of Americans' personal information, potentially violates several federal statutes, paves the way for illegal purging of voter rolls, and is based on false claims made by President Trump and members of his administration," Connolly wrote according to The Hill.
Also on Capitol Hill, Democrats in both the House and Senate have introduced the Anti-Voter Suppression Act that would block federal funding for the president’s election commission.
“It would be highly irresponsible for senators or congressional members to remain silent,’’ Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) said at the bills unveiling. “It is just and right that at a time when we see, I think, efforts to undermine the most basic Constitutional rights, which is the right to vote and participate in this democracy, that no Senator, that no House member should be silent.”
Three separate federal lawsuits have been filed against the election commission’s request for data. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, The American Civil Liberties Union and Public Citizen have all filed suit.
In addition, the Electronic Privacy Information Center filed suit last week.
District of Columbia
The Council of the District of Columbia has voted unanimously to reject the White House’s request for voter data. The bill makes it illegal for the D.C. Board of Elections to provide the presidential commission with information about voters other than what is already publicly available.
In last week’s update, Hawaii was the only state with no information about how it would handle the voter data request. This week we have learned that, according to state elections officials, it will be up each of Hawaii’s county governments to determine what voter data to send, if any at all.
The Idaho Democratic Party has filed a lawsuit seeking a temporary restraining order preventing Secretary of State Lawerence Denney from sending any voter data to the White House commission. “No one, absolutely no one in Idaho has ever said they wished more of their private information would fall into the hands of hackers, or telemarketers, or even the federal government,” said Bert Marley, state party chairman. “While Secretary Denney has indicated that he may not send all of the information the Trump commission wants, he simply failed to offer assurances that this is even a legal request or that the information will be safeguarded and kept private.” The suit argues that the request violates the state’s public records law.
The Brennan Center for Justice, the Indiana League of Women Voters and the Indiana chapter of the NAACP have filed suit against Secretary of State Connie Lawson in an attempt to stop the release of voter data to the White House panel. The suit is based on Indiana law which allows for the release of some voter data, but prevents the recipient from sharing that information other than for political or fundraising activities. The White House commission has said it will make the voter data public.