The League joined a letter sent to all 50 Secretaries of State condemning and opposing the data request by President Trump's advisory commission. The League continues to stand with the election officials who have rejected the request for sensitive information and urges those that have not responded to carefully consider future responses to the commission.
July 6, 2017 Dear Secretary of State: On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (“The Leadership Conference”), a diverse coalition of more than 200 national organizations committed to promoting and protecting the civil and human rights of all persons in the United States, and the undersigned allied groups, we write to condemn and oppose the data request by President Trump’s advisory commission (the “commission”). We applaud the principled actions that many Secretaries of State and election administrators have taken to reject the commission’s request for sensitive information about voters, and we urge those that have not yet responded to carefully consider any future responses to the commission. We strongly believe that the commission’s request is an unprecedented overreach and a brazen assault on the founding principles of our democracy. We have three overarching concerns. First, we are concerned that this commission is laying the groundwork for potential voter suppression by the wrongful removal of eligible voters, including Black, Hispanic, Native American, older, and student voters, from the rolls through the problematic process known as Crosscheck. Second, the creation of a national database of voters’ detailed information raises serious privacy concerns. And finally, at a time when the focus should be addressing the possibility of past and continued Russian interference, including cyberattacks in the 2016 elections, the creation of a national database raises significant national security concerns. The right to vote is a sacred right. It is the right that protects all other rights and ensures that our elected leaders are accountable to the citizens they represent. Our country has made great strides to increase access to the ballot throughout its history, and you play a fundamental role in the free and fair administration of our electoral process.
As reported, Kansas Secretary of State Kobach sent you a letter last week requesting that you provide sensitive voter roll data, including the names, addresses, dates of birth, political party affiliation, past voter history, and even partial Social Security numbers of registered voters in your state. That letter is merely a request and given the fact there are no guarantees about how this data would be used or even secured, no one should feel compelled to cooperate. We were heartened that this request rightly drew swift and bipartisan condemnation across the country in large part because of serious questions about the legality of releasing this personal information. Member organizations of The Leadership Conference, and others, have filed multiple legal challenges to this request, alleging possible violations of numerous federal laws, and constitutional violations. Depending on how states respond to the commission’s request, additional legal challenges could be pursued under state laws as well.
Although disgraceful, the commission’s actions are unfortunately not surprising, given the individuals leading the effort and their longstanding pursuits of voter suppression in the July 6th, 2017 name of phantom voter fraud. As Governor of Indiana, Vice President Pence supported voter suppression tactics, including undermining voter registration drives and pushing extreme voter ID laws. Secretary Kobach also has a long record of discriminatory and regressive actions on voting rights. His unrepentant attempts to suppress voting have led to thousands of voters being wrongly removed from the rolls and barred from exercising their democratic right. And just last week, President Trump appointed Hans von Spakovsky to the commission. Mr. von Spakovsky’s troubling support for voter suppression led not only to a public rebuke from career Justice Department attorneys but also to the U.S. Senate refusing to confirm his nomination to the Federal Election Commission. Many Secretaries of State and election administrators have rightly characterized the commission’s data request as “disingenuous,” “repugnant,” a “waste of taxpayer money,” and “a tool to commit large-scale voter suppression.” As you prepare to join your fellow Secretaries of State later this week at the National Association of Secretaries of State summer conference, we respectfully request that you join your colleagues in expressing collective opposition to the commission and its data request. At a time when barely half of eligible voters exercise the franchise, we should instead be taking every possible step to remove barriers to voting in America. Our democracy is stronger when more, not fewer, citizens are involved in the electoral process. If the right to vote is denied, we will fail our democracy and it will not survive. Secretaries of State and election administrators have the mission and responsibility to ensure access to the ballot by upholding the guarantees of our laws and Constitution. All Secretaries of State and election administrators should stand united in protecting the voting rights of our nation’s citizens and rejecting the commission’s outrageous request.
Sincerely, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Access Democracy Advancement Project AFSCME Alliance for Justice American Association for Justice American Association of University Women (AAUW) American Civil Liberties Union American Federation of Labor-Congress of industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) American Federation of Teachers American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) Andrew Goodman Foundation Anti-Defamation League Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) Asian Americans Advancing Justice - AAJC Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote Bend the Arc Jewish Action Brennan Center for Justice Center for American Progress Center for Community Change Center for Media and Democracy Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Coalition on Human Needs Color of Change Common Cause Common Cause Illinois Communications Workers of America Contra Costa MoveOn Crescent City Media Group Daily Kos Democracy 21 Democracy Initiative Democratic Women in Action Demos Equal Justice Society Equal Rights Advocates Equality California Every Voice Fair Elections Legal Network Friends of the Earth U.S. Global Justice Institute, Metropolitan Community Churches Hindu American Foundation Hip Hop Caucus Human Rights Campaign Institute for Science and Human Values Japanese American Citizens League Jewish Council for Public Affairs Lambda Legal LatinoJustice PRLDEF Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law League of United Latin American Citizens League of Women Voters of the United States Main Street Alliance MALDEF Money Out People In Coalition MOVI (Money Out Voters In) Muslim Advocates Muslim Public Affairs Council NAACP NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. National Action Network National Association of Human Rights Workers National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund National Bar Association National Center for Lesbian Rights National Center for Transgender Equality National Congress of American Indians National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA) National Council of Jewish Women National Council of La Raza (NCLR) National Education Association National Employment Law Project National Hispanic Media Coalition National Low Income Housing Coalition National Partnership for Women & Families National Women's Law Center Native American Rights Fund Nebraskans for Civic Reform New Jersey Institute for Social Justice OCA - Asian Pacific American Advocates Occupy Bergen County (New Jersey) Ohio Voter Rights Coalition One Wisconsin Now PC(USA) Washington Office of Public Witness Peace Action People For the American Way Planned Parenthood Federation of America PolicyLink Presbyterian Feminist Agenda Network Public Citizen Rock the Vote San Francisco Democratic Women in Action Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Southern Poverty Law Center State Voices The Georgia Coalition for the People's Agenda The Voter Participation Center Transformative Justice Coalition U.S. National Committee for UN Women United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries Universal Health Care Action Network (UHCAN) Voices for Progress Voting Rights Institute Women's Intercultural Network (WIN) YWCA USA