On July 20, 2017, the Brennan Center and co-counsel filed a lawsuit on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Texas, the Texas NAACP, and Ruthann Geer seeking to prevent Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos from producing voter registration information to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity in a manner that does not comply with state law and could harm millions of registered Texas voters.
On January 3, 2018 the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity was terminated. In light of the termination of the Commission, plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed their claims without prejudice. Plaintiffs reserve the right to reinstate their claims if there are any further attempts by the federal government to access the voter data at issue in this case.
On June 28, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach – who serves as vice-chair of the Commission – requested names, addresses, 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 the Commission requested this information to “fully analyze vulnerabilities and issues related to voter registration and voting.”
In Secretary Pablos’ public response to the Commission’s request, he stated that his office would provide the Commission with only the information on Texas voters that was publicly available. But Texas law affords voters even greater privacy protections and safeguards before the state can hand over information in its voter registration database. The parties filed this lawsuit to ensure compliance with Texas law.
On October 3, plaintiffs secured a temporary restraining order preventing the Texas Secretary of State from disclosing certain voter data to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. The Brennan Center and co-counsel had argued that doing so, as the Secretary had planned, would violate state law that protects the privacy of Texas voters. A temporary injunction hearing is currently scheduled for October 16.
On October 10, defendants filed a petition for writ of mandamus and a motion for temporary relief with the Third District Court of Appeals. On October 12, the Court of Appeals temporarily stayed all proceedings in the district court, including the temporary injunction hearing previously set for October 16. The following day, the Court of Appeals extended the district court’s temporary restraining order until further notice.
There were at least seven federal lawsuits filed challenging the Commission, including five in Washington D.C., one in Florida, and one in New York. In addition, lawsuits were filed in state court in New Hampshire, Indiana, and Idaho. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia declined to provide any data, and others said they would only provide publicly available data.
The organizational plaintiffs in the suit —The League of Women Voters of Texas and the Texas NAACP — are represented by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Kirkland and Ellis LLP, and the Law Office of Charles McGarry.
- Petition (pre-filed) (07/20/2017)
- Opposition to Petition for Mandamus (08/18/2017)
- Defendants’ Answer and Affirmative Defenses (08/18/2017)
- Plaintiffs’ Amended Petition for Declaratory Relief (09/20/2017)
- Plaintiffs’ Application for Temporary Restraining Order and Temporary Injunction (09/21/2017)
- Plaintiffs’ Sworn Second Amended Petition for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief (09/21/2017)
- Plaintiffs’ Memorandum of Law in Support of Application for TRO and Temporary Injunction (09/21/2017)
- Defendants’ Plea to the Jurisdiction (09/26/2017)
- Defendants’ Opposition to Plaintiffs’ Request for TRO (09/27/2017)
- Supplement to Plaintiff’s Application for TRO (09/29/2017)
- Temporary Restraining Order (10/03/2017)
- Petition for Writ of Mandamus (10/10/2017)
- Writ of Mandamus Petition Notice (10/11/2017)
- Relators’ Motion to Expedite Consideration of Relators’ Emergency Motion for Temporary Relief (10/11/2017)
- Order—Granting Stay (10/12/2017)
- Order—Extension of Temporary Restraining Order (10/13/2017)
- Real Parties in Interest’s Response to Petition for Writ of Mandamus (10/23/2017)
- Relators’ Reply to Real Parties in Interest’s Response to Petition for Writ of Mandamus (10/30/2017)
- Memorandum Opinion (02/02/2018)
- Plaintiffs’ Notice of Non-Suit Without Prejudice (03/22/2018)