In Comments Submitted to the Kobach-led Commission, Lawyers’ Committee Notes “the Commission operates in a shroud of secrecy and with pre-cooked conclusions”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is a thinly veiled attempt to undermine the voting rights of millions of Americans and is in clear violation of key government transparency laws, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law charged Monday in public comments filed ahead of the Commission’s meeting on Tuesday.
While the Commission led by known vote suppressor Kris Kobach lacks diversity and has failed to meet basic transparency requirements outlined in the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), its work also has had a chilling effect on the American electorate through its unprecedented request for personal voter information and unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud. Left unaddressed, the effect of the Commission’s politically-motivated work could ultimately infringe on the voting rights of millions of Americans, particularly racial minorities.
Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, stated: “This Commission meeting is a farce. It is astounding that this Commission has lined up a full day of speakers who provide no racial, gender or ideological diversity. In so doing, the Commission has made clear that they do not represent the diverse voices of Americans who care about voting but is instead focused on providing a platform for the extremist views of those who support voter suppression. In the lead up to this Commission meeting, Kris Kobach advanced a false and baseless theory of vote fraud in New Hampshire that was quickly discredited and makes clear his hostility towards student voters. In every respect, it is clear that the agenda of this Commission is to target vulnerable groups of voters in order to push forth laws and policies that will make it harder for people to vote. We will continue to use the court as a venue to challenge this Commission’s unlawful activities and work to terminate the Commission and its dangerous agenda. In no uncertain terms, we condemn the formation and continued operation of the so-called Election Integrity Commission.”
Tuesday’s Commission meeting in Manchester, New Hampshire, features a stacked line up of guest panelists who provide absolutely no racial, gender, or ideological diversity. In fact, every one of the ten panelists called to speak is a white male and many are among the nation’s most vocal voter suppression advocates. It was only in response to litigation brought by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law that the Commission released its agenda ahead of Tuesday’s meeting. In a court hearing last week relevant to that litigation, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly stated that the Commission did not “live up to the representations” it previously made to produce materials to the public.
In addition to its FACA litigation in the D.C. District Court and its comments to the Commission submitted Monday, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has undertaken a series of comprehensive actions to challenge the Commission. This includes launching a hotline for the public to report instances of voter suppression (866-OUR-VOTE); sending letters to Secretaries of State demanding they not comply with Mr. Kobach’s request for voter roll data; filing a Hatch Act complaint against Mr. Kobach regarding his repeated exploitation of his Commission role to solicit campaign contributions and promote his candidacy for Governor of Kansas; and urging Secretaries of State to adopt a bipartisan resolution condemning the so-called Election Integrity Commission.
A copy of the comments submitted Monday can be found online.
About the Lawyers’ Committee:
The Lawyers’ Committee, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Now in its 54th year, the Lawyers’ Committee is continuing its quest “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.