President Donald Trump's commission on election fraud is telling states to hold off on providing detailed voter information in the face of increasing legal challenges. The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit in federal court Monday, arguing that the election fraud commission had skirted government transparency and open meeting rules. But so far, the only meeting the commission has held was private.
"This commission was created to sell a lie", said Dale Ho, Director of the ACLU's Voting Rights Project.
"President Trump's baseless claim that millions of illegal voters participated in the 2016 election has been summarily debunked", Maes told Colorado Politics. To date, no evidence has been found supporting the President's claim.
Trump won the electoral vote last fall, but he lost the popular vote by almost 3 million votes.
Yet he remains preoccupied with the politically irrelevant loss of a popular vote of eight months ago. But Trump's election commission staff should do the legwork to access that information at the commission's expense.
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.
Last week every state received a letter asking for voter data from Kris Kobach, vice chairman of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. 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 goal. Agencies must first publish a Privacy Impact Assessment that describes the objective of the data collection and how the data would be secured, which the commission plainly failed to do.
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".
"We can not, by law, give the information to them", Merrill said, citing Alabama law that prevents the his office from turning over the sensitive data contained within Alabama's lengthy voter rolls. Both also object to the fact that the commission's proclaimed first meeting, called for July 19, will be viewable only on the Internet. The ACLU, however, believes the public should be able to attend it in person.
FACA was enacted in 1972 to govern the behavior of federal advisory committees.
The group charged that the way the commission wanted to obtain and store the information was insecure and a threat to privacy.
As noted in the complaint, past year the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals found that Kobach had disenfranchised 18,000 Kansas motor-voter applicants, and called his assertions of widespread voting by non-citizens "pure speculation". Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The ACLU is also asking the court to require the commission to be fairly balanced in terms of membership, points of view and functions.
Like Alabama, many states that didn't flat-out reject the request said the commission could purchase public data but that could come at a mounting cost.
In the court filing Monday, Kobach said "the Commission has chose to use alternative means for transmitting the requested data".
In this case, the ACLU is hoping to force the commission to be more transparent. "That's part of the code and the code is very clear", Hall, the office spokesman, said Tuesday.