Thousands of Texans are being disenfranchised thanks to chronic failures in the state’s voter registration system, a Democratic group alleges based on government records and extensive additional evidence. The charges raise serious questions about Texas’s commitment to making the ballot box accessible to new voters, and about its compliance with federal voting law. In a letter sent Wednesday to Texas Secretary of State Carlos Cascos, lawyers for Battleground Texas, which works to register voters in the state, wrote that the state government’s “voter registration failures are widespread and systematically undermining the right to vote in Texas.”
The letter, which was obtained exclusively by msnbc, is likely to precede a lawsuit under the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), more commonly known as the Motor Voter law, which requires states to offer registration opportunities through their motor vehicle departments and other government agencies.
“If the state does not want to engage and take the steps necessary to fix this, then we’re prepared to initiate legal action,” Peter Kraus, a lawyer representing Battleground Texas, said in a phone interview. A spokesperson for the secretary of state’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The allegations offer the latest evidence that Texas’s Republican administration is creating obstacles to voting as the state’s soaring Hispanic population threatens to shift the balance of power in the state. Around 2 million Texas Hispanics are unregistered, and just 39% of eligible Hispanics in the state voted in 2012, compared to 61% of eligible whites and 63% of eligible blacks.