On July 26, the Brennan Center and co-counsel filed a lawsuit on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Utah, the League of United Latin American Citizens of Utah, Cheronne Anderson, and Lavinia Taumoepeau-Latu seeking to prevent Utah Lieutenant Governor Spencer J. Cox from producing voter registration information to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity in a manner that does not comply with state law. Utah limits access to individualized voter registration data to certain entities and purposes, and Lieutenant Governor Cox’s sharing of data with the Commission could potentially expose data belonging to over 1.5 million registered Utah voters.
On January 3, 2018 the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity was terminated. On February 28, plaintiffs filed a joint stipulation of dismissal, with both the defendants agreeing that if the federal government creates a similar commission on or before January 2, 2021, they would notify plaintiffs prior to responding to the new commission’s request for voter registration data.
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 Lieutenant Governor Cox’s public response to the Commission’s request, he stated that his office would provide the Commission with only the information on Utah voters that was publicly available. But Utah law affords voters even greater privacy protections and safeguards before the state can hand over information from its voter registration database. The parties filed this lawsuit to ensure compliance with Utah law.
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, Idaho, Indiana, and Texas. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have declined to provide any data, and others — like Cox — have said they will provide publicly available data.
The organizational plaintiffs in the suit —The League of Women Voters of Utah and the United Latin American Citizens of Utah — are represented by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Kirkland & Ellis LLP, and David R. Irvine, Attorney and Counselor at Law, PC.
- Memo on Legal Risks of Sharing Data
- Fraud Commission
- Cox’s Statement
- Joint Stipulation of Dismissal