Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Don Sumners said Monday that he would not purge from the voter roll before the November election any of the 9,018 citizens who received letters from his office in recent days notifying them that they may be dead and are at risk of having their registrations canceled. However, a spokesman for the Texas secretary of state, the office that generated the statewide list of about 80,000 voters, said Sumners’ move contradicts legislative directives. “Our office has federal and state requirements to maintain an accurate and secure voter registration list. If any of those people are deceased, the law requires that they be removed from the voter registration list ,” Rich Parsons said. “Mr. Sumners’ decision would prevent that.” The letters, many of which were delivered Friday and Saturday, asked recipients to verify within 30 days that they are alive or be cut from the roll.
Sumners, who also is the county’s voter registrar, said conversations with the Secretary of State’s Office convinced him the list of possible dead was too unreliable to act on until after the Nov. 6 election. “We’re not even going to process any of the cancellations until after the election,” Sumners said. “Because we’ve gotten such a response from people that say that they are still alive.”