Texas

Articles about voting issues in Texas.

Texas: Secretary of state apologizes for how he rolled out voter citizenship review. But he still supports the effort. | The Texas Tribune

Facing an uncertain path to confirmation after ordering a deeply flawed voter citizenship review that seemingly focused on naturalized citizens, Texas Secretary of State David Whitley is apologizing to state lawmakers for the way his office bungled its rollout of the review — but he is still holding firm behind the overall effort. In a letter sent to state lawmakers late Wednesday, Whitley largely defended the review efforts as a legally sound exercise, and he did not admit that his office had erred when it mistakenly threw into question the eligibility of tens of thousands of U.S. citizens or when it sent counties lists of voters it knew very likely included naturalized citizens. Instead, Whitley vaguely admitted there were some shortcomings to the data his office used to flag almost 100,000 registered voters for citizenship reviews and noted his office should have devoted more time to “additional communication” with local and state officials to “further eliminate anyone from our original list who is, in fact, eligible to vote.”

Full Article: David Whitley delivered Texas lawmakers an apology over citizenship review | The Texas Tribune.

Texas: Civil rights groups ask court to halt ‘voter purge’ during lawsuit | Houston Chronicle

Warning that the “likelihood of severe harm is high,” civil rights organizations asked a federal judge to order an immediate halt to a state-initiated process that questions the citizenship of thousands of registered voters in Texas. The MOVE Texas Civic Fund, the Jolt Initiative, League of Women Voters of Texas and Texas resident Nivien Saleh filed a motion  for a preliminary injunction Wednesday, seeking to prevent any Texans from wrongly being removed from the voter rolls while the groups’ lawsuit against the state and five county elections officials proceeds. The request focuses on a Jan. 25 advisory sent by Texas Secretary of State David Whitley, asking local election offices to look into the citizenship of 95,000 people on the voter rolls. Whitley recommended that counties send notices to people the state flagged as possible non-citizens, giving them 30 days to prove they’re eligible to vote by presenting proper documentation. If they don’t respond, their registrations would be canceled by the county voter registrar. Even if a notice is returned as undeliverable, the advisory instructs the county to cancel the registration.

Full Article: Civil rights groups ask court to halt 'voter purge' during lawsuit - Houston Chronicle.

Texas: David Whitley could face a tough confirmation for Texas secretary of state | The Texas Tribune

The governor’s appointments for secretary of state typically sail through the Texas Senate. But against the backdrop of a flawed voter citizenship check that risked the votes of tens of thousands of naturalized citizens, Gov. Greg Abbott’s latest pick finds himself in need of Democratic support. And the minority party’s doubts about — if not outright opposition to — his confirmation are growing. A longtime Abbott aide appointed to the post in December, David Whitley is set to face the Senate Nominations Committee on Thursday after almost two weeks of intense scrutiny of his decision to question the citizenship status of almost 100,000 voters using flawed data that seemingly singled out naturalized citizens for review. He’s since been named as a defendant in three lawsuits alleging the review was unconstitutional and violated federal safeguards for voters of color, who are more likely to support Democrats. And he’s facing questions from Democratic lawmakers about why he handed that list of voters to the attorney general’s office for possible prosecution even before the names were reviewed by local elections officials.

Full Article: David Whitley could face a tough confirmation for Texas secretary of state | The Texas Tribune.

Texas: Activists: Texas voter purge is latest effort to target voting rights | USA Today

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.

Full Article: Activists: Texas voter purge is latest effort to target voting rights.

Texas: Civil rights groups sue to stop ‘unlawful purge’ of thousands of voters | The Guardian

Civil rights groups have launched lawsuits accusing Texas officials of compiling a flawed list of voters that could see thousands of naturalized citizens wrongly expunged from electoral rolls, sparking a fierce political fight over alleged voter suppression. Four Texas-based organisations are plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed on Monday that asks a federal court to stop the state from enacting an “unlawful purge” based on the flagging of about 95,000 people as potentially illegally registered to vote. It follows legal action initiated last week by Hispanic rights groups who contend the state is pursuing a voter suppression tactic that is likely to have a strong impact on minorities’ democratic rights. “This list is simply a way to target US citizens who are foreign-born as opposed to being any genuine effort to identify non-US citizens on the voter rolls,” said Nina Perales, vice-president of litigation for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Full Article: Texas: civil rights groups sue to stop 'unlawful purge' of thousands of voters | US news | The Guardian.

Texas: Voter-Fraud Claims Don’t Have to Be True to Achieve Their Goal | The Atlantic

Federal courts struck down Texas’s original voter-ID law, which would have required certain forms of government-issued identification in order to vote, deeming it intentional discrimination against minorities. But GOP officials who lead the state argued that the passage and implementation of the law was necessary to prevent voter fraud, and last year Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton accepted the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision to uphold a slightly revised version of the law that would allow other forms of identity verification for people who can’t get the proper government-issued documentation. Yet Republicans still don’t think the regulation has done the job. Last week, Texas Secretary of State David Whitley’s office sent an advisory to counties involving a list of people who’d been identified as potential noncitizens with a matching voter-registration record. Activists and media criticized the list as inaccurate and misleading. But that didn’t stop GOP officials from using the list as definitive proof of rampant voter fraud, despite having no evidence that anyone had voted illegally. Their fervor seemed to add to the suspicion that the party has an endgame well beyond “ballot security,” and to the fear that new forms of voter suppression are just on the horizon.

Full Article: Why Trump Is Talking About Voter Fraud in Texas - The Atlantic.

Texas: “Someone did not do their due diligence.” How an attempt to review Texas’ voter rolls turned into a debacle | The Texas Tribune

State Rep. Rafael Anchia had been alarmed by the actions of the Texas secretary of state’s office for days by the time the agency’s chief, David Whitley, walked into the Dallas Democrat’s Capitol office on Monday. The Friday before, Whitley’s staff had issued a bombshell press release calling into question the citizenship of 95,000 registered voters in Texas. Soon after, Democratic lawmakers and advocacy groups were raising serious questions about how many people on that list were actually non-citizens who are ineligible to vote. But before those doubts emerged, Whitley, the top election officer in the state, had handed over information about those registered voters to the Texas attorney general, which has the jurisdiction to prosecute them for felony crimes. So as Anchia sat at the end of his green, glass-topped conference table, he wanted to know: Did Whitley know for sure that any of the names on his list had committed crimes by voting as noncitizens? “No,” Whitley answered, according to Anchia.

Full Article: Texas went looking for voter fraud. Then everything fell apart. | The Texas Tribune.

Texas: Civil rights group sues Texas over order to investigate potential noncitizen voters with flawed data | Dallas Morning News

A civil rights group has sued Texas for advising counties to review the citizenship of tens of thousands of eligible voters in the state with flawed data, claiming it violates the voting rights of U.S. citizens and legally registered Texas voters who are foreign-born.  The lawsuit filed by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund alleges the state has “singled out for investigation and removal” the names of U.S. citizens who are registered voters because they were born outside the United States. It asks for an injunction to prevent recently naturalized citizens from being investigated and a rescission of the state’s advisory to comb through a list of 58,000 people whom state officials said had potentially voted while not citizens. 

Full Article: Civil rights group sues Texas over order to investigate potential noncitizen voters with flawed data | Politics | Dallas News.

Texas: Officials launched voter purge with big splash, little accuracy | Houston Chronicle

Last Friday afternoon, Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton took to Twitter to blast out alarming news. “VOTER FRAUD ALERT,” the tweet said. “The @TXsecofstate discovered approx 95,000 individuals identified by DPS as non-U.S. citizens have a matching voter registration record in TX, approx 58,000 of whom have voted in TX elections.” The tweet ricocheted across the internet for two hours before the state sent notice of the explosive number of suspected non-citizen voters to county election officials, who are charged with verifying the initial findings and purging any ineligible voters. The state had been working on the analysis since March 2018, but it took the elections officials less than a day to spot glaring errors. By Tuesday, the original list of 95,000 had been cut to roughly 75,000 names. “I can’t speculate as to why the original list had mistakes,” said Williamson County Elections Administrator Chris Davis, who is President of the Texas Association of Elections Administrators and was among the first to notify the state of inaccuracies. “We weren’t, my county, wasn’t consulted on search parameters or methodology.”

Full Article: Texas officials launched voter purge with big splash, little accuracy - HoustonChronicle.com.

Texas: Abbott sticks by flawed list of non-citizen voters, says review should continue | Dallas Morning News

Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday said the flawed list of tens of thousands of non-citizens who had potentially voted released by his secretary of state is a “work in progress” and that state and local officials should continue their reviews. “This is a list that we need to work on together to make sure that those who do not have the legal authority to vote are not going to be able to vote,” he said. “This is what you would categorize as a process, a work in progress. They’ll get it right.”  On Friday, Secretary of State David Whitley, who was appointed by Abbott in December, sent an advisory to counties saying that about 95,000 people who received driver licenses — while legally in the country, but not U.S. citizens — also appeared on Texas voter rolls. Of them, 58,000 voted in one or more elections between 1996 and 2018, Whitley’s office said. It asked counties to review the eligibility of people on the list.

Full Article: Abbott sticks by flawed list of non-citizen voters in Texas, says review should continue | Politics | Dallas News.

Texas: In reversal, Department of Justice under Trump backs Texas in redistricting fight | Austin American-Statesman

Reversing a stand taken by the Obama administration, the U.S. Department of Justice has told a federal court that it no longer believes past discrimination by Texas officials should require the state to get outside approval for redistricting maps that will be drawn in 2021. As part of a long-running challenge to political districts drawn after the 2010 census, lawyers for minority voters, Democratic candidates and civil rights groups are seeking a ruling that requires federal approval before Texas can use any new maps. Under President Barack Obama, the Justice Department also had argued that such “preclearance” was necessary because “Texas has a history of intentional racial discrimination in redistricting.” The department no longer believes Texas requires federal oversight, according to a brief filed Tuesday evening by John Gore, the principal deputy assistant attorney general.

Full Article: In reversal, DOJ under Trump backs Texas in redistricting fight - News - Austin American-Statesman - Austin, TX.

Texas: Many Voters Whose Citizenship Was Questioned Are in Fact Citizens | The New York Times

A claim made last week by the Texas secretary of state — that 95,000 registered voters had a citizenship status that could not be determined — appeared to fall apart on Tuesday when local election officials said many of the people were known to be United States citizens.

Some registered to vote when they applied for a driver’s license at the Texas Department of Public Safety, which requires them to prove citizenship status to state officials. Others registered at naturalization ceremonies, a data point to which state officials said they did not have access.

Election officials in Harris County, home to Houston, said they received 30,000 names — the largest single batch of potential noncitizen voters — from the secretary of state’s office on Monday. By Tuesday afternoon, they had determined that roughly 400 of those names were duplicates and 60 percent so far of the others were United States citizens.

“We are not willing to conclude at this point that we know of anybody on this list who is not a United States citizen,” Douglas Ray, special assistant attorney for Harris County, said. “We may determine that at a later time, and we are going to investigate that very carefully, but as you can tell by the numbers, so far things ain’t looking good for this list,” referring to the state’s claim.

Local officials reported similar findings on Tuesday in Fort Bend County, outside of Houston; Travis County, home to the state capital, Austin; and Williamson County, outside of Austin. All said they had been instructed by the secretary of state’s office on Tuesday to disregard the names of voters who registered at state public-safety offices.

Full Article: Many Texas Voters Whose Citizenship Was Questioned Are in Fact Citizens – The New York Times.

Full Article: Many Texas Voters Whose Citizenship Was Questioned Are in Fact Citizens - The New York Times.

Texas: Officials Begin Walking Back Allegations About Noncitizen Voters | NPR

Texas officials are taking a step back on their claim they found 95,000 possible noncitizens in the state’s voter rolls. They say it is possible many of the people on their list should not be there. In a statement Tuesday, the Texas Secretary of State’s office said they “are continuing to provide information to the counties to assist them in verifying eligibility of Texas voters.” Last Friday, Texas Secretary of State David Whitley sent an advisory to local registrars asking them to look at their voter rolls. Whitley said his office flagged the names of 95,000 people who at one point in the past 22 years had identified as noncitizens with the Texas Department of Public Safety. In that timespan, officials said, they also registered to vote. Voting rights groups have said the state’s list is likely a list of naturalized citizens who recently got the right to vote. 

Full Article: Texas Officials Begin Walking Back Allegations About Noncitizen Voters : NPR.

Texas: Voter citizenship review list has problems, state tells counties | The Texas Tribune

After flagging tens of thousands of registered voters for citizenship reviews, the Texas secretary of state’s office is now telling counties that some of those voters don’t belong on the lists it sent out. Officials in five large counties — Harris, Travis, Fort Bend, Collin and Williamson — told The Texas Tribune they had received calls Tuesday from the secretary of state’s office indicating that some of the voters whose citizenship status the state said counties should consider checking should not actually be on those lists. The secretary of state’s office incorrectly included some voters who had submitted their voting registration applications at Texas Department of Public Safety offices, according to county officials. Now, the secretary of state is instructing counties to remove them from the list of flagged voters. “We’re going to proceed very carefully,” said Douglas Ray, a special assistant county attorney in Harris County, where 29,822 voters were initially flagged by the state. A “substantial number” of them are now being marked as citizens, Ray said.

Full Article: Texas voter citizenship review list has problems, state tells counties | The Texas Tribune.

Texas: Specter of illegal Texas voters draws skepticism | Austin American-Statesman

For some Republicans, including President Donald Trump, Friday’s announcement that state officials had identified 95,000 registered voters as possible non-U.S. citizens provided all the proof they needed to confirm suspicions that illegal voting is pervasive. Democrats and civil rights activists greeted the news skeptically, arguing that the scenario described by Texas Secretary of State David Whitley mirrored the GOP playbook under Trump by using inflated accusations to justify cracking down on voting rights, particularly for minority voters. “Make no mistake,” said Beth Stevens, the voting rights legal director of the Texas Civil Rights Project. “The state is going to use this highly suspect ‘investigation’ to try to pass laws that will make it harder for eligible Texas voters to cast a ballot that counts.”

Full Article: Specter of illegal Texas voters draws skepticism - News - Austin American-Statesman - Austin, TX.

Texas: Officials Flag Tens Of Thousands Of Voters For Citizenship Checks | Texas Public Radio

The Texas secretary of state’s office announced Friday it would send local election officials a list of 95,000 registered voters who the state says counties should consider checking to see whether they are U.S. citizens and, therefore, legally eligible to vote. In an advisory released Friday afternoon, the office said it was flagging individuals who had provided the Texas Department of Public Safety with some form of documentation — including a work visa or a green card — that showed they were not a citizen when they were obtaining a driver’s license or an ID card. Among the individuals flagged, about 58,000 individuals cast a ballot in one or more elections from 1996 to 2018, the secretary of state’s office said.  It’s unclear exactly how many of those individuals are not actually U.S. citizens and whether that number will be available in the future. In its notice to counties, the secretary of state’s office said the names should be considered “WEAK” matches, using all capital letters for emphasis.

Full Article: Texas Officials Flag Tens Of Thousands Of Voters For Citizenship Checks | Texas Public Radio.

Texas: Trump administration opposes a return to federal oversight for Texas redistricting, reversing Obama-era stance | The Texas Tribune

In the latest about-face on voting rights under President Donald Trump, the U.S. Department of Justice no longer supports efforts to force Texas back under federal oversight of its electoral map drawing.

In legal filings this week, the Justice Department indicated it would side against the voters of color, civil rights groups and Democratic lawmakers who want a three-judge federal panel in San Antonio to require Texas to seek pre-approval of its legislative and congressional maps, given previous maps that the federal judges ruled discriminatory.

“The United States no longer believes that [federal supervision] is warranted in this case,” federal attorneys said in their filing to the court.

It’s the latest twist in the high-stakes legal fight that could return Texas to the days when it couldn’t make changes to its maps without the Justice Department or a federal court first ensuring that state lawmakers weren’t infringing on the political clout of voters of color — a voting rights safeguard that was in place for decades until 2013. And it’s the most recent reversal by the Justice Department in the case.

Under the Obama administration, the Justice Department sided with those challenging the state’s maps as discriminatory. But last year, Deputy U.S. Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler joined state attorneys in convincing the U.S. Supreme Court that Texas’ current congressional and state House maps, which were adopted in 2013, were legally sound.

In approving the state’s current maps, the high court in June wiped out a ruling by the San Antonio panel that found the maps were tainted with discrimination that was meant to thwart the voting power of Hispanic and black voters, oftentimes to keep white incumbents in office. But seemingly left untouched were previous findings of intentional discrimination at the hands of the state lawmakers who first redrew the state’s maps in 2011.

The state’s opponents are now pointing to some of those 2011 violations in asking the San Antonio panel to consider returning Texas to federal guardianship of its maps.

Full Article: Trump admin decides Texas doesn’t need federal oversight for redistricting | The Texas Tribune.

Full Article: Trump admin decides Texas doesn't need federal oversight for redistricting | The Texas Tribune.

Texas: Russian Trolls Successfully Peddled Texas Pride in 2016, Senate Reports Say | Dallas Observer

If you thought Texas’ Facebook fever swamp got especially weird as the 2016 election approached, you were right. According to a couple of new, third-party reports released by the Senate Intelligence Committee this week, the Internet Research Agency, the Russian troll farm behind the country’s fake news campaign to interfere in the 2016 election, specifically targeted Texas with one of its most successful pages. According to one of the reports — from Oxford University’s Computational Propaganda Project — a page managed by the Russian agency called “Heart of Texas” racked up the third-most likes of any page managed by the group, with 5.5 million. Users shared posts from the page nearly 5 million times and made more than 400,000 comments before Facebook shut it down in September 2017. 

Full Article: Russian Trolls Targeted Texas in 2016 | Dallas Observer.

Texas: 5th Circuit temporarily blocks online voter registration for Texas drivers | The Texas Tribune

Texas will not be required to meet a 45-day deadline to implement online voter registration for drivers — for now. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday temporarily blocked a lower court ruling that mandated a voter registration system that would allow drivers to register to vote when they renew their driver’s licenses online. The requirement was part of U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia’s ruling that Texas was violating a federal voter registration law — also known as the “Motor Voter Act” — that’s meant to ease the voter registration process.

Full Article: 5th Circuit temporarily blocks online voter registration for Texas drivers | The Texas Tribune.

Texas: Hughes’ committee election report calls for paper ballot trail, lays ground for bills in 2019 Legislature | Longview News-Journal

A 17-page report issued by a Texas Senate panel led by East Texas state Sen. Bryan Hughes gives a preview of election security bills that lawmakers will take up when they convene in Austin at the new year. Released to the public Wednesday, the report by the Senate Select Committee on Election Security does not include recommendations on combating mail ballot fraud. That topic took up much of the seven-member, bipartisan panel’s only meeting Feb. 22. … The report devotes much of its attention to the cybersecurity of voting systems in Texas and recommends that all electronic voting machines in the state produce a paper ballot voters can inspect before casting their ballots.

Full Article: Hughes' committee election report calls for paper ballot trail, lays ground for bills in 2019 Legislature | Gregg | news-journal.com.