ACLU sues over Trump's secretive election commission

Then president-elect Donald Trump meets with Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach in November 2016. Mike Segar  Reuters

A second suit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union questions the motivations and makeup of the panel, stating that "the commission was established for the objective of providing a veneer of legitimacy to President Trump's false claim that he won the popular vote in the 2016 election-once millions of supposedly illegal votes are subtracted from the count".

Fourteen states and Washington, D.C., have refused to comply with the request, and several other states are only expected to provide limited information to the commission. Even though information like driver's license numbers, Social Security numbers and dates of birth are collected on voter registration forms, Idaho law says that information is not releasable under the state's public records law.

Vice President Mike Pence's office said last week that 20 states have agreed to share at least some data and 16 more are reviewing the request.

"Today, July 10, 2017, the Commission also sent the states a follow-up communication requesting the states not submit any data until this Court rules on plaintiff's TRO motion", the government wrote (PDF) the court.

The State Board of Elections has post3ed the following on its website, "Information on removed voters remains in public databases available on the State Board website".

Merrill added that this is because constituents haven't been presented the necessary data to "make an informed decision on their personal position", because of the state's lack of knowledge "from the commission as a whole".

Trump signed an executive order creating the election commission in May. The commission's request also demands data showing the history of whether voters participated in elections (but not actual votes cast).

On "First Coast Connect" Tuesday, League of Women Voters of Florida President Pamela Goodman said her group had been concerned about the possible release of data, but "We did not oppose him giving away information that is publicly accessible". His statement notably was issued through the White House, which itself has been under fire for its skimpy and nonresponsive evasions to White House reporters' verbal inquiries to the president on multiple news developments. Vice Chairman Kris Kobach said, "Whatever a person on the street can walk in and get, that's what we would like". In a filing in the lawsuit by the privacy center, commission lawyers said they "do not concede that FACA applies to the Commission".

Missouri Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, a Republican, suggested that the commission, "go jump in the Gulf of Mexico".

By the end of the week almost every state had refused the request in some fashion.

Both suits charge that the commission has already violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which sets the standards for committee openness and accountability.

"The individuals on the commission raise some troubling questions as to the balance, the views that will be expressed", ACLU staff attorney Sophia Lin Lakin said in a phone interview. They say the commission's request - if compiled into a database - could put the nation's voter rolls at risk of hacking, manipulation and other nefarious possibilities.

The ACLU also alleges in its complaint that Trump broke a federal rule that requires that advisory panels can not be inappropriately influenced by the person who appoints them.

Washington residents line up for early voting in the 2016 elections at the Chevy Chase Community Center.



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