ACLU Comment on Trump Election Commission's Course Correction Following Legal Action

July 14, 2017 10:45 am

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NEW YORK — President Trump’s election commission has begun to meet some of the demands of a federal lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The lawsuit charged the commission with failing to comply with the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which is designed to ensure public accountability of all advisory committees.

“Given the resounding public outcry over the commission’s overreaching request for the personal data of every registered voter in the country, as well the multiple legal actions which ensued, we are not surprised that the commission is making an attempt at course correction,” said Sophia Lin Lakin, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. “The concessions we have already gained from the commission represent an important victory for public accountability.”

Since the ACLU filed its lawsuit on July 10, the commission has created a website, disclosed the introductory email and agenda from its first telephonic meeting, and pledged to make all documents related to the commission’s next meeting available before it takes place on July 19. The commission has created websites to store released documents, public comments, and state responses in regards to the original data request. Physical copies of the documents will be accessible to the public at the General Services Administration in Washington, D.C. The commission has said they will provide select members of the media with in-person access to the July 19 meeting; however, the public is still not able to attend.

The commission has not made all of its documents available to the public, including documents related to its decision to request the personal data of every registered voter in America. The public still lacks any information about how its data will be maintained securely, and what the commission plans to do with it.

“Despite its concessions to our suit, the commission continues to argue that it is not bound by the Federal Advisory Committee Act and, therefore, can skirt public accountability as it sees fit,” said Theresa Lee, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. “It legally cannot. We will continue to press for full adherence in court.”

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