Releasing Personal Voter Data is Illegal Under Texas Law, Civic Groups Say in New Lawsuit

July 20, 2017

Austin, TX – Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos would break state law if he hands over personal information about voters to the president’s “Election Integrity” Commission without meeting certain conditions, The League of Women Voters of Texas and the Texas NAACP argue in a lawsuit filed today.
 
Pablos indicated he would provide “public information” in response to a controversial request for voter details by the panel’s vice-chair, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Plaintiffs argue in the lawsuit that the move is illegal as described, since Texas law requires numerous other steps to protect against the data being used improperly.
 
The two groups and individual voter filing suit are represented by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Kirkland and Ellis LLP, and Charles McGarry, Esq.
 
“The Secretary of State should strictly follow state law if he releases any voter information to the Commission,” said Elaine Wiant, president of the League of Women Voters of Texas. “Releasing personal information could result in identity theft, causing great harm to Texas voters. Further, we fear that the Commission’s goal is voter suppression, not voter participation. The Secretary should use great care to protect Texan’s personal information.”
 
“This Commission has assembled a Who's Who from the Voter Suppression Hall of Fame and presents one of the greatest threats to Democracy in the last 100 years,” said Gary Bledsoe, president of the Texas NAACP and an attorney with the Bledsoe Law Firm. “Americans should know that the disenfranchisement of minorities and elderly today will ultimately spread and threaten our democracy. This lawsuit is intended not to obfuscate any legitimate efforts to scrutinize voter efforts, but to ask that our state recognize our traditional values such as privacy and not produce unnecessary and inappropriate information that can only lead to harming voters.”
 
“The state’s recent history on voting rights issues leaves a lot to be desired, and casually handing over this information would be yet another misguided move,” said Myrna Pérez, deputy director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. “Texas must take steps to ensure that voters have all the protections the law provides.”
 
The suit is the latest in a series of legal challenges to Kobach’s request and the commission’s work. Last week, the Brennan Center, and Kirkland and Ellis LLP, filed a lawsuit on similar grounds in the Hoosier State, representing the League of Women Voters of Indiana, the Indiana NAACP, and a private plaintiff.
 
Lean more about the “Election Integrity” Commission on the Brennan Center’s resource page here. The Commission’s first meeting was Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

For more information or to schedule an interview with a Brennan Center expert, please contact Rebecca Autrey at rebecca.autrey@nyu.edu or 646-292-8316. For the League of Women Voters of Texas, please contact Aileen McMurrer at ajmcmurrer@lwvtexas.org or 512-472-1100. For the Texas NAACP please contact Gary Bledsoe at garybledsoe@sbcglobal.net or 512-322-9992.

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