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ACLU Files Federal Lawsuit Over Trump Election Commission Secrecy

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit over the lack of transparency by President Trump’s election commission.

"This commission is a sham. Donald Trump lost the popular vote, and this commission was established to sell the lie that he didn’t. The end game is to justify laws that will make voting harder for people, most likely minority and lower-income people. And the commission wants to do this all behind closed doors. That’s not only bad for our democracy, it’s against the law," the ACLU says.

The ACLU is urging a US district court to force the commission to comply with the Federal Advisory Committee Act and ensure all meetings are open to the public and written records are available for public inspection.

“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. It must also adopt measures to ensure that its work is not inappropriately influenced by special interests or the president himself.

President Trump lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes, yet he promotes the lie that voter fraud is to blame. Trump, in turn, created the commission via executive order.

Kobach and voter suppression

It 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.

The commission will hold a July 19 meeting — only available via internet live stream — and has, by its own admission, held a previous telephonic meeting without notifying the public, as required by law.

“Our election process must be secure, fair, and transparent,” said Sophia Lin Lakin, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. “Yet the Commission is conducting its work deep in the shadows, making it alarmingly suspect. The Commission is legally required to conduct the people’s business in the light of day.”

Click to sign a petition to demand the transparency and accountability this commission owes the public. Make it clear we won’t let them hide behind closed doors while they try to restrict our voting rights.

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.

For more information, please visit The ACLU.

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