Lawsuit targets White House voting commission

(Jason Morrison/FreeImages.com)

A coalition of civil rights organizations and Florida residents filed a federal lawsuit Monday against Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner and a White House commission, accusing them of potentially violating state and federal laws to try to build a nationwide voter database.

The legal challenge, filed in the Southern District of Florida, was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, the Florida Immigrant Coalition, former state Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner, Tampa City Councilman Mike Suarez, Joshua Simmons of Broward County and Brenda Shapiro of Miami-Dade County.

It says the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity has violated a slew of technical federal requirements about how the panel should conduct its business and how voters' records should be handled.

"The executive order does not empower the Presidential Advisory Commission to amass and centralize a federal database of voters and then publicize it," the lawsuit says, referring to a directive issued by President Donald Trump setting up the panel.

The challenge asks for the court to order the commission to stop collecting voter data, at least until a "privacy impact assessment" has been completed.

It also asks for an injunction to prevent Detzner from turning over any information deemed confidential by Florida law, though Detzner has already said he wouldn't turn over sensitive data.

"To ensure defendant Detzner complies with (state law), and to prohibit the commission from attempting to obtain that protected information from any other source, plaintiffs seek an injunction pursuant to (state law) to preclude disclosure of the Social Security numbers and driver's license numbers of Florida voters," the suit says.

After days of criticism from Florida Democrats, Detzner's office announced Thursday that it would release publicly available information covered by the presidential commission's request.

The national ACLU filed similar claims on some of the federal counts in a lawsuit in Washington, D.C.