Florida Voters Sue Presidential Commission, Request for Voter Information
Federal lawsuit filed on behalf of ACLU of Florida, Florida Immigrant Coalition and concerned voters object to illegal nationwide voter information database that goes far beyond the Commission’s legal authority
A coalition of voting and civil rights leaders and concerned Florida voters has filed a lawsuit challenging the effort by the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity to collect information from voters nationwide. The lawsuit, filed today in federal court in Miami, seeks an order preventing the Commission from conducting any business until it complies with federal law and barring the transmission of states’ voter data to the Commission.
On June 28, the Vice Chair of the Presidential Commission, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, requested personal identifying information on all registered voters from all 50 states and the District of Columbia – an unprecedented request – to establish a centralized federal database of Americans’ voting information. The information requested includes party affiliation, voting history, birth dates, and partial social security numbers.
On July 6, Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced his intention to partially comply with the request, to the extent that Florida privacy protects permit, though it is not currently clear whether Florida voters’ information has already been transmitted to the Commission and what, if any, precautions were taken to protect the security of the data. Given his decision to comply, the lawsuit seeks to enjoin Secretary of State Ken Detzner from producing any documents until the legal issues are resolved.
“This Commission’s activities are a smokescreen for efforts to advance policies designed to suppress the right to vote,” stated former Florida State Senator Arthenia Joyner, one of the plaintiffs in the case. “The Commission’s mission is to support the president’s baseless claims about ‘millions’ of fraudulent ballots costing him the popular vote. The information which they are seeking to collect is the perfect formula for identity theft for any hacker who wants to break into the non-secure server which the Commission is using to have the data sent from the state.”
The lawsuit filed today names the Presidential Commission itself, Kris Kobach and Vice President Mike Pence in their roles as vice-chair and chair of the Commission, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, and other officials as defendants. Besides Joyner, plaintiffs in the lawsuit are: the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida, Tampa City Councilman Mike Suarez; Broward County voter Joshua A. Simmons; Miami-Dade County voter Brenda Shapiro; Miami-Dade County Voter Luis Meurice; and the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC).
“What the president is attempting to do through the “Election Integrity Commission” is unprecedented,” stated ACLU of Florida Executive Director Howard Simon. “Never before has an agency of the federal government, operating behind closed doors, attempted to amass a federal database of every voter in America. This goes beyond any authority the Commission has under the Constitution, federal law, or even the executive order President Trump issued to establish it.”
“We cannot be blind to how the state’s voter registration data will be used,” Simon added. “This is a politicized Commission that seeks to justify false claims of voter fraud and eventually proposals to address non-existent in-person voter fraud that will suppress or, at the very least, make it more difficult to vote. In short, we have asked the courts to protect the interests of all voters from having their voter data misused.”
Plaintiffs in the case are represented by: Benedict Kuehne and Michael T. Davis of Kuehne Davis Law, P.A.; Nancy Abudu, legal director of the ACLU of Florida; H.K. Skip Pita, of Pita Weber Del Prado; Jason B. Blank of Haber Blank, LLP; Marc A. Burton and Daniel J. Poterek of The Burton Firm, P.A.; Larry S. Davis and Shana Korda of the Law Office of Larry S. Davis, P.A.; Freddy Funes, Jarred L. Reiling, Gerald Greenberg, and Adam Schachter of Gelber, Shachter & Greenberg, P.A.; and Joseph S. Geller of Greenspoon Marder, P.A.
“I have joined this effort to prevent the misuse of my voter and identity information – especially based on the concocted claims of voter fraud by President Trump,” said Luis Meurice of Miami. Meurice is a member of the International Longshoremen’s Association and District Vice President of South Florida AFL-CIO.
A copy of the complaint filed today in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida is available here: http://aclufl.org/resources/
The national American Civil Liberties Union filed a separate federal lawsuit today in Washington over the commission’s lack of transparency, charging the Commission with failing to comply with the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which is designed to ensure public accountability of all advisory committees. That lawsuit states that the Commission’s work has been cloaked in secrecy, holding its first meeting without notice or making it open to the public. More information on that case is available here: https://www.aclu.org/news/