PRESS RELEASE | 07/27/2017 | by Catherine Weller, Co-President

LWVUtah Files Lawsuit to Protect Voters

Lieutenant Governor Would Violate State Law by Sharing Voter Data with Election Commission

Salt Lake City, UT - If the lieutenant governor of Utah hands over voter data to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, he would be violating state law, the League of Women Voters of Utah and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) of Utah argued in a lawsuit filed Wednesday.
 
In a statement responding to the Commission’s request, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox said state law “requires voter registration records be public documents that can be obtained by any person or entity who submits an appropriate records request.” The lieutenant governor’s office oversees elections in Utah.
 
But the League argues that doing so would be illegal without the Commission meeting conditions carefully stipulated under the state’s Government Records Access and Management Act. The law imposes complete privacy on voter social security numbers, and requires individuals or entities to adhere to specific guidelines about how other personal information will be used. Those guidelines cannot be honored if the information is given over to the Commission as has been requested.

 The League of Women Voters of Utah along with LULAC of Utah and the two individual voters filing suit are represented by the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, Kirkland and Ellis LLP, and David R. Irvine, Attorney and Counselor at Law, PC.
 
“This Commission’s request for voter data has been questionable from the get-go,” said Catherine Weller, president of the League of Women Voters of Utah. “Utahns deserve nothing less than to have their personal information protected, as is clearly outlined under state law, so they can participate in free and fair elections in the future.”   

“Utahns value our privacy, and this request did not sit well with many voters in our state,” said Antonella Packard, State Director of LULAC of Utah. “The fraud Commission must follow all relevant procedures under state law, like any other entity trying to obtain voter information.”
 
“Utah law has very strict guidelines on how voter data must be safeguarded,” said Myrna Pérez, deputy director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program. “The lieutenant governor’s willingness to hand over information with no reference to the protections his state provides is extremely concerning.” 
 
The suit comes shortly after a federal judge in Washington, D.C., declined to bar states from sharing data with Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the panel’s vice-chair who wrote the initial request asking for information. Mr. Kobach had previously asked states to withhold their data until the court issued a ruling. The lawsuit was filed the same day Mr. Kobach renewed his request for voter information in a new letter to secretaries of state. This is the latest in a series of legal challenges to Mr. Kobach’s letter and the Commission’s work, and follows other lawsuits by the Brennan Center and Kirkland and Ellis LLP in Indiana and Texas.
 

To contact the Brennan Center for Justice, please email Blaire Perel at perelb@brennan.law.nyu.edu or call 646-925-8734. For the League of Women Voters of Utah, contact Catherine Weller at lwvutah@gmail.com or 801-671-9939. And for LULAC Utah, contact Antonella Packard at lulacutah@gmail.com.