On July 11, the Brennan Center and co-counsel filed a lawsuit on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Indiana, the Indiana NAACP, and Joselyn Whitticker seeking to prevent Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson from producing voter registration information to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity in a manner that does not comply with State law. Indiana limits access to individualized voter registration data to certain entities and certain purposes; the Commission’s investigation and public disclosure of data does not qualify. Secretary Lawson’s sharing of data with the Commission could potentially harm millions of registered Indiana voters.
On June 28, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach – who serves as vice-chair of the Commission – requested names, address, birthdates, the last four digits of a voter’s social security number if available, voter history, military status, and felony conviction history from states across the country. Kobach, who has a long-time history of supporting voter suppression efforts, stated that this information was requested to “fully analyze vulnerabilities and issues related to voter registration and voting.”
In Secretary Lawson’s public response to the Commission’s request on June 30, she stated that while state law prevents her from providing some personal information the Commission requested, she would provide voters’ names, address, and congressional districts. Secretary Lawson made no mention of any written agreement between the Commission and Indiana’s Election Division, a legal prerequisite to obtaining the data.
Currently, there have been seven federal lawsuits filed challenging the action, including five in Washington D.C., one in Florida, and one in New York. In addition, lawsuits have been filed in state court in New Hampshire and Idaho as well. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have declined to provide any data, and others — like Lawson — have said they will provide publicly available data.
The organizational plaintiffs in the suit — The League of Women Voters of Indiana and the Indiana NAACP — are represented by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Kirkland and Ellis LLP, and Trent A. McCain of McCain Law Offices, P.C.