Free Speech For People filed a motion for summary judgment in National Election Defense Coalition v. Lawson, a case challenging the Indiana Secretary of State’s refusal to disclose election security-related emails exchanged with the National Association of Secretaries of State.
Secretary of State Connie Lawson was the 2017-18 President of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), a national non-governmental organization. As president and past president of NASS, Secretary Lawson has frequently issued statements to the media, public, and elected officials about the security and trustworthiness of voting systems in the United States. Some of these statements reflect an inaccurate security profile of our election systems, a critical national security asset. As a leader of NASS, Secretary Lawson’s comments can be especially influential in shaping U.S. policy necessary to secure our election infrastructure.
Our client the National Election Defense Coalition (NEDC), a non-partisan non-profit organization, seeks information about the origins of Secretary Lawson’s public statements related to her position in NASS leadership. NEDC therefore requested records of correspondence between NASS and the Secretary’s office on this topic.
After several months’ delay, the Secretary eventually provided some records, including a “random sampling” for “preview purposes.” But despite the passage of sixteen months since NEDC submitted its request, and good-faith efforts by NEDC to explicitly narrow its request, the Secretary has still not provided a complete response. Moreover, even in the “preview,” she withheld a large number of apparently responsive documents on tenuous legal grounds, including “copyright” issues supposedly stemming from a boilerplate disclaimer at the bottom of all NASS email messages. After months of fruitless exchanges and a complaint to the Indiana Public Access Counselor, NEDC has still not received the vast majority of responsive records.
The Secretary’s response is due February 14, 2020. The matter is set for hearing on April 27, 2020 in Indianapolis.