Lawsuit aims to pry information from Kobach voting panel

Good government groups filed a lawsuit in federal court Monday aiming to force the Trump administration to release information about the controversial White House voting commission. 

The commission, which is led by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (pictured), has generated intense opposition after twice requesting state voter roll data. There’s widespread fear that the panel will use the data to help states purge their rolls in ways that could disenfranchise eligible voters. There are also concerns about how and whether the commission will keep the data safe.

“Because the Commission is proceeding with its effort to collect state voter roll data, and because other actions by the Commission that may lead to increased voter disenfranchisement or voter suppression may also be imminent,” the lawsuit claims, “it is imperative that the public be informed immediately of the Commission’s intentions and processes.” 

The plaintiffs in the suit, The Brennan Center for Justice and The Protect Democracy Project say they acted after their Freedom of Information Act requests to the panel did not receive a response. 

A spokesman for Vice President Mike Pence, who officially chairs the commission, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The commission has provided little information to the public about its activities. Even commissioners were not consulted about its second request for voter data, which came from Kobach, one commissioner has said. And several Democratic commissioners said this week they’ve had almost no communication from the panel’s leaders since its only public meeting in July.

The panel was created after President Trump raised fears about voter fraud, including falsely claiming that he’d have won the popular vote were it not for millions of illegal votes. 

“President Trump’s election commission was founded on a false premise about our country’s election systems,” said Larry Schwartztol of Protect Democracy. “If the commission is being run in order to advance a misleading narrative about voter fraud, it threatens to undermine fair access to our democracy. When the stakes are that high, ensuring transparency is a critical safeguard.” 

This is just the latest lawsuit targeting the commission. Several suits that sought to block the panel from collecting state voter roll data have been dismissed by courts.

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