Washington - The ACLU today filed a federal lawsuit over the lack of transparency by President Trump’s election commission. The lawsuit charges the commission with failing to comply with the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which is designed to ensure public accountability of all advisory committees.
Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap serves on the commission.
“The commission held its first meeting without notice or making it open to the public. This process is cloaked in secrecy, raising serious concerns about its credibility and intent. What are they trying to hide?” said Theresa Lee, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.
Federal law requires that commission meetings be open to the public, with timely notice provided, allowing for in-person attendance, and that written records be made available to the public. The commission must also adopt measures to ensure that its work is not inappropriately influenced by special interests or the president himself.
The commission, which was created by President Trump via executive order, is led by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, whom the ACLU has successfully sued numerous times over his voter suppression policies. Kobach has been roundly criticized for attempting to solicit detailed information on every registered voter in the United States. He has not divulged how the commission would use — or protect — that sensitive information, which includes names, addresses, birth dates, political affiliation and voting history. Secretary Dunlap, along with Secretaries of State from 46 states across the country, have refused to fully comply with the request.
The commission will hold a July 19 meeting — only available via internet livestream — and has, by its own admission, held a previous telephonic meeting without notifying the public, as required by law.
“Those charged with protecting our electoral system must be dedicated to a secure, fair and transparent process,” said Zachary Heiden, legal director at the ACLU of Maine. “Unfortunately, Secretrary Kobach has a history of using propaganda about illegal voting to create unnecessary restrictions on the right to vote.”
The case, American Civil Liberties Union v. Donald Trump, was brought by ACLU National and the ACLU of the District of Columbia. It was filed in federal district court in Washington, D.C.
The complaint is at: https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/american-civil-liberties-union-v-donald-trump-complaint
More information is at: https://www.aclu.org/cases/american-civil-liberties-union-v-donald-trump