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League of Women Voters of Utah, League of United Latin American Citizens of Utah, Cheronne Anderson, and Lavinia Taumoepeau-Latu v. Spencer J. Cox

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.

Published: May 21, 2018

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.

Back­ground

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.

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