The recent eye-popping claim by the Texas secretary of state’s office – that 95,000 registered voters in Texas may be ineligible because they’re not U.S. citizens – grabbed quick headlines and sprang into President Donald Trump’s Twitter feed, rekindling fears of rampant voter fraud by non-U.S. citizens. Within a week, however, three lawsuits challenging the move and state officials erasing tens of thousands of names from that list have since raised questions about the validity and methodology of the claim. The clash over Texas voters comes amid allegations by voting rights’ activists of nationwide efforts to purge voters of color from rolls and influence elections, including aggressively going after alleged non-citizens registered to vote. Since 2013, Florida, New York, North Carolina and Virginia have conducted illegal purges, according to a recent study by New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice. The report also found that between 2014 and 2016, states removed almost 16 million voters from the rolls – or 4 million more than what was removed between 2006 and 2008. Many of those were improperly removed, the report said.
Non-U.S. citizens are not allowed to vote in federal and state elections. But the methodology and data used to check a voter’s citizenship, often driver’s license records, is flawed, said Myrna Perez, the Brennan Center’s director of voting rights and elections project.
“In all of these instances, the number of actual people who should not be on is vanishingly small,” she said. “Our rolls can and should be cleared, but the way to do this is not some overblown ballyhoo, but commonsense maintenance procedures.”