Trump Commission Disbanded, But Voting Groups Remain Vigilant

January 4, 2018

Austin, TX – The League of Women Voters of Texas and the Texas State Conference of the NAACP were pleased to learn on Wednesday that the Trump administration decided to dissolve the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Joined by a Texas voter, the groups filed a lawsuit last summer to prevent Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos from illegally turning over personal voter files to the Commission in response to its requests.

In announcing his decision to dismantle the Commission, which he had created to investigate his unsupported claims of voter fraud, Trump cited the litigation over whether states should be required to provide the Commission with sensitive voter information and the ensuing litigation. Though Secretary Pablos was prepared to comply with the Commission’s requests, a state court had temporarily blocked the data transfer in response to the suit filed by the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, and the Texas voter. The plaintiffs and their lawyers are hopeful that the dissolution of the Commission will result in a prompt winding down of the lawsuit.

The groups’ lawyers — the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Kirkland and Ellis LLP, and Charles McGarry, a Dallas attorney — argued that the disclosure of Texans’ personal information as requested by the Commission would have violated Texas law and put at risk the sensitive personal information of millions of Texans.

“We are proud to have played a role in protecting Texans’ privacy,” said Elaine Wiant, President of the League of Women Voters of Texas. “Without this fight, Texas would have complied with the misguided request in clear violation of Texas law.”

“Texas and the nation dodged a huge bullet today,” said Gary Bledsoe, President of the Texas State Conference of the NAACP. “If the requested data had been had been turned over, our military would be at risk, as would battered women and a host of other Texans. We call on individuals from both parties to join together and enact laws to protect our national security from such unworthy encroachments.”

The Trump administration indicated that the Department of Homeland Security would continue the work of the Commission in some capacity. And early Thursday morning, Trump used the Commission’s demise as an opportunity to push voter identification requirements.

“The elimination of the Commission is a victory for voters,” said Myrna Pérez, Director of the Brennan Center’s Voting Rights and Elections Project. “We will continue to work with our Texas clients and partners to monitor efforts to compromise the voting rights of Texans.”

The Texas suit came after Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the panel’s vice-chair, wrote a request to all states asking for sensitive information. It is one of a number of suits brought by the Brennan Center and Kirkland & Ellis LLP, including in Indiana and Utah, and is in addition to a series of direct legal challenges to Kobach’s request and the commission’s work.

Learn more about the “Election Integrity” commission on the Brennan Center’s resource page here.

For more information or to schedule an interview with the League of Women Voters of Texas, please contact Aileen McMurrer at ajmcmurrer@lwvtexas.org or 512-472-1100. For the Texas State Conference of the NAACP, contact Gary Bledsoe at garybledsoe@sbcglobal.net or 512-626-5461. And to speak with a Brennan Center expert, contact Rebecca Autrey at rebecca.autrey@nyu.edu or 646-292-8316.

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