Today, Protect Democracy filed a complaint against the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity and the Office of Management and Budget challenging the Commission’s ongoing efforts to collect sensitive voter information from state election officials around the country. The lawsuit asks the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to issue a writ of mandamus requiring the Commission to halt any collection or use of data until it complies with the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), and an injunction requiring OMB to exercise its authority to ensure that the Commission complies.
The Paperwork Reduction Act governs federal agencies when they seek to collect information from the public, including from state officials. The statute imposes a framework for ensuring that the government explains its need for the requested data, minimizes unnecessary burdens, establishes adequate structures for maintaining data securely, protects privacy interests, and gives the public a meaningful opportunity to comment in advance of the government’s data collection. That transparency and opportunity for public comment offer precisely the kind of safeguards that would ordinarily protect against the harms inherent in the sweeping data collection the Commission has undertaken. Here, however, the Commission simply ignored the statute.
Our complaint seeks to bring the Commission back within the bounds of the law. Protect Democracy previously joined the Brennan Center for Justice in writing to OMB to raise alarms about this non-compliance, copying all 50 states, many of which have since rejected the Commission’s requests. WilmerHale is serving as co-counsel with Protect Democracy.