A massive scheme to commit voter fraud is going on right now in Texas. What makes it all the more cynical and twisted is that it is being perpetrated in the name of preventing voter fraud. And top officials in the state are complicit. It started on Jan. 25, with an alarmist, misleading advisory sent to county registrars, the officials who oversee voter rolls in the Lone Star State. Texas Secretary of State David Whitley, who until December had been deputy chief of staff to Gov. Greg Abbott (R), claimed in a news release that Department of Public Safety records showed nearly 100,000 registered voters had not been citizens when they applied for their driver’s licenses. More than half of them — 58,000 — had voted in at least one election. The advisory acknowledged these were “WEAK matches” (the advisory’s capitalization, not mine). But the secretary of state said local officials should demand that all of those named produce evidence of citizenship. If they failed to respond or provide documents within 30 days, those voters could be purged from the rolls. Whitley also noted that knowingly voting in an election when a person is not eligible is a second-degree felony in Texas. From there, predictably, the echo chamber took over.
“VOTER FRAUD ALERT,” tweeted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Abbott followed by retweeting Paxton and declaring flatly that this was evidence of “illegal vote registration. I support prosecution where appropriate.”
Then it blared from the biggest amplifier of all. “58,000 non-citizens voted in Texas, with 95,000 non-citizens registered to vote,” President Trump tweeted at this latest purported evidence to support one of his favorite conspiracy theories. “These numbers are just the tip of the iceberg. All over the country, especially in California, voter fraud is rampant. Must be stopped.”
Study after study has shown it is exceedingly rare for someone who is not a citizen to attempt to vote. And registrars across the state immediately recognized the problems with both the claims of widespread illegal balloting and Whitley’s approach for rooting it out. In 2017, more than 1.8 million Texans were naturalized citizens. What is becoming apparent is that many who landed on the list are people who took their oath of citizenship since the last time they got a driver’s license.